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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Formerly Iowa - now western Arizona
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    1,617

    Chapter XIII Part II

    Dateline: Near St. Olaf, Iowa

    Muttering mild curses at his lack of foresight Rick was sweating heavily in the cooling air of the descending night. How could he have been so thoughtless! He’d seen the glistening shards laying on the pavement but had blithely driven right through them when he could have just as easily swerved around them. At the time though his only concern was his passenger. He’d been more aware of the effects of every bump and the continuing hard breathes between clenched teeth than he had of the possible ramifications of his choice of paths.

    In order to get at the spare tire he’d had to unload the machines in the rear. To effect this he’d first had to seek out a likely safe spot where his actions would be unwitnessed. Not that he was doing anything wrong per se but because his plight would all to likely bring unwanted attention from a passerby, who’d then stop to offer help. Once stopped it would all too easy for them to catch a glance of Leadfoot and his evident misery. That would lead to questions and perhaps an offer to take him to the nearest hospital. An offer that would seem incredible to refuse considering the time it would take to change the tire. But how would one explain to a complete stranger that Leadfoot’s best interests did not lay in the direction of the closest hospital, given that it would be all too evident that he was suffering from a gunshot wound at the same time that a wide hunt was underway for a tractor-trailer combination being operated by a driver who might have been wounded in a gun battle with law enforcement? Perhaps the stranger would be more than a little sympathetic, and just as likely they could call in the law, ending Leadfoot’s freedom and risking everything the group had worked so hard to accomplish.

    Once a suitable barn was found at an abandoned farmstead Rick had assured Leadfoot he’d move as quick as possible. Leadfoot assured him he could stand it. he was as loath to put the group and the hospital at risk as anyone, especially in light of what he’d already endured. He was determined that his contributions to the cause wouldn’t be for naught.

    “How ya doing up there?”

    Leadfoot heard Rick call to him as he sweated and grunted at the back of the Wagoneer. He called back in reassurance.

    “I’m holdin’ on okay. Tire pretty bad is it?”

    A grunt then a reply: “Yeah, time we got here it was pretty well shredded. Thought for sure these better grade tires wouldn’t puncture so damn easy. Sorry I was wrong. For your sake, not mine.”

    “Ah’ll live, don’t worry none. Just wisht I could hep you unload all that stuff.”

    Another grunt of effort. “Nyahh, not so heavy if you know how to do it. Just that my lift doesn’t work too well on this old floor here. Wheels are too small to roll easily. But that’s done for now. Wheew!”

    Rick stopped to wipe the sweat off his brow. The last of the copiers was unloaded and moved out of the way. The hidden batteries within them made no small addition to their weight. Now for the easy part: get the spare tire and the tools from the compartment under the floor.

    His movements only slightly slowed by his fatigue he worked as quickly as he could. The concealing plastic floor panel was pulled out, then the carpet lifted. Finally the fiberboard panel underneath. There in the well sat what he sought.

    Removing the spare then the tools he set to work. The left rear wheel had punctured, losing air over the course of the past 20 miles. The last 2 miles had been driven on the rim, shredding the tire and gouging the rim itself. It’d have to be replaced. Fortunately Rick thought ahead enough to have a spare pair of rims and matching tires stored away. His spacesaver spare would stand the distance for a while, enough to get back home if he took it slow enough and stayed off the non-paved roads. Time to worry about that later.

    Tossing a plate on the ground underneath the side of the car he placed the scissor jack on top and attached the jointed handle. The car rose in the air at an awkward angle until the destroyed wheel was clear.

    Grabbing the compact lug wrench he set to work on the nuts after first removing the hubcab. In 10 minutes he was finished, the spare firmly in place, the useless tire dragged to the side of the barn and placed behind some detris there. It’d command less attention than the machines themselves, or not. It might also explain why several multi-thousand dollar business machines came to be sitting in the barn to begin with. If by chance they were found before he could return for them.

    Dateline: PAS Supply Convoy

    After making the tractor switch and dealing with the problem of the too-easily identified trailer the convoy of now two vehicles resumed their journey. Raymond and Charlotte ran ahead in the Explorer, watching carefully for other traffic, especially anything with official plates. Heading south from the rural Keystone area on Iowa 200 they caught US 30 and headed east towards Cedar Rapids. Once on 30 the driver could plausibly explain his presense. The plan now was to stay in the open, for all appearances a regular delivery run from the warehouse in Mount Pleasant, heading ultimately for Prairie du Chien via Decorah. The worst thus far was sweating out the entrance onto Hwy 30, lest surprise traffic catch the truck as it entered. Fortunately luck was with them and they made the highway without any traffic within visual distance.

    A mere 9 miles brought them to Iowa 150, which they took north. For a moment they were afraid they’d been made when a County Deputy watched carefully from the intersection as the truck made the corner. The driver gave a non-commital wave as he came by, the Deputy scanning the rig carefully as if he intended to stop it. Ray and Charlotte were unaware of the drama save that they had seen the squad car sitting there and made a quick scrambled call to the relief driver.

    Apparently the hasty placard job and the change of tractor models was enough and the Deputy remained on watch. It wasn’t until he was 3 miles up the highway that the driver made a quick double click to indicate that all seemed well. Wal-Mart trucks were after all not unusual on this highway as several stores lay along the route stretching south to north.

    The next test was at Vinton, 13 miles to the north. After that another 13 miles would bring them to I-380 where 150 crossed over. There was an interchange there but nothing else. If stopped he could always claim he was just coming out of the store at Vinton. Workable only so long as no one checked or asked to see the inside of the trailer. One glance would tell that a stack of animal feed was hardly a typical cargo for the discount chain truck, nevermind that it was stacked to the far back doors.

    It was now just after 2100 hours. Darkness was falling fast, the twilight dim enough that headlights were called for. Soon only lights would show in the distance and would as a result be far more readily picked up by anyone watching. Anyone wishing to check out the truck would have to either drive alongside or slow it to a crawl to see that it didn’t match the one being sought.

    Almost holding their collective breath the intrepid patriots carried on. If all went well they could expect to arrive at the Aid Station around 2300 hours. A journey that should taken under 4 hours was now well into it’s 15th hour.

    Dateline: Unnamed Location Within the US

    The meeting went well. The outcast professor had excellent progress to report. His experiments to date had proven fruitful, so much so that he was overwhelmingly confident that the program was a complete success. All that remained was to produce the material in sufficient quantity to be useful. The men in the other SUV seemed quietly pleased.

    The professor had his objectives in mind and his backers were willing to provide the resources he needed to meet those goals. To him that was all that mattered. The only ideology he cared about was his own. he could have cared less who was in charge so long as they allowed him his experiments, and then the exploitation of his research.

    Insofar as principals he had virtually none. The only guiding precepts he accepted could be summed up by the text inscribed upon the Guidestones in Elbert County, Georgia:

    THE MESSAGE OF THE GEORGIA GUIDESTONES
    1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
    2. Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.
    3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
    4. Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.
    5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
    6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
    7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
    8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
    9. Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.
    10. Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

    Little did the professor know how closely his principals were shared by his backers. Perhaps shared was too kind a word. It was if they themselves had carved the inscriptions upon the stones.

    The professor didn’t care. To him the means were the end and the end was the means. All was the same and not. Not only did he talk like this he actually thought in that manner.

    “I have my creation. My creation is the destruction. The destruction is the creation. All is the same and not the same. All will be as is and is not.”

    The other three men present at the little gathering nodded sagely. They understood him better than he understood himself.

    End Chapter XIII Part II
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

    http://medtech.syrene.net/forum/

    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    Dateline: Des Moines, Iowa

    “So, Bob, lay it all out for me. What do YOU see happening and what can we do to stop it from happening?”

    Governor Balsack was meeting privately with his Media Relations Secretary. The discussion centered around recently received intell concerning the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Middleton. He was definitely not liking what he was hearing.

    “Governor, in a time of crisis like this you need to move decisively. The people of the state expect that of you.”

    Sitting back in the depths of the huge leather office chair the Governor allowed himself a huge sigh. “I understand that. But what I simple do not have a frm grasp on yet is the stuation down there. What is happening, who’s in charge, and what in blazes does it have to do specifically with this office?”

    Patiently, like a teacher addressing a child offering only a blank stare in response to a lesson the man representing the dark powers in Washington went over each point again, rewording it slightly and presenting it more slowly this time.

    “Item 1. We have received reports of a hasty collection of rebels gathering on the grounds of the Plant. Who allowed them access we do not know. We only know that they have complete access and the workers are cooperating with the Rebels.

    Item 2. The NRRT has identified the plant as a national resource of great significance to the national defense. As a result they have sent a combined forces detachment out of Pennsylvania to secure the plant site in the national interests.

    Item 3. We believe that the appearance of the rebels at the plant is merely a coincidence, that there is no connection between their being there and the detachment heading in that direction.”

    The Governor held up a cautioning hand. “Let’s back track a moment here. When you say “detachment” how many men are we talking about?”

    “I believe,” DeNiro began, suppressing a sigh of his own as he spoon-fed the Governor the information, “that it consists of several trucks of troops and some light armor. I do not know what type of armor, only that Washington said there was some accompanying the detachment. Apparently it was involved with the detachment in suppressing a misguided student uprising at the University of Pennsylvania at New Haven.”

    The Governor beamed as a recent memory struck him. “Ahh, yes. I recall the news reports. Quite a mess as I understand it. Fortunately our people were only facing a ragtag bunch of students.”

    “Yes sir, that is the gist of it. When the Civilian Environmental Corps tried to recruit them they balked and refused to enlist. Such a misunderstanding it was. Being offered free food, housing, uniforms, medical care and one day of the week of your choice for meditation or communing. The resultant loss of life is deplorable of course. But I do digress, sir.”

    “That’s alright, Bob. Filling in the details is helping me to understand this better. Now, you were saying?”

    Gathering his wits about him once more DeNiro pressed on.

    “Item 4. It appears that we can expect little assistance from law enforcement agencies in the SE. Local reports indicate that they are merely controlling access to the area by the media and civilians at large, and are doing nothing to interfere with the rebels. Considering the manner in which some of these groups are armed with their illegal assault rifles and other high capacity weapons I shouldn’t wonder but the Sheriff finds himself seriously out-gunned.”

    Interrupting once more Balsack broke in: “Do we know where these rebels came from? Are they Iowans?”

    “Unknown at this time,sir. As you know Iowa has prohibited the formation and meeting of militia groups for many years. We were ahead of the rest of the nation in that respect. But my source down there tells me that the license plates were removed from the vehicles carrying in these people, and that they arrived under cover of darkness in any case. Without actually taking some of them into custody and fingerprinting them we have no way of knowing for sure. We have reason to believe, however, that many of them are from southern Illinois and northeast Missouri. There may even be some ties to national militia groups. If so they are no less guilty of interfering with the affairs of this state, and certainly of opposing the legal government.”

    Item 5. As far as armaments we believe that they do not have the capacity to make use of the munitions manufactured or otherwise stored at the plant. There are rumors, unsubstantiated as of this moment, that they have begun removing the munitions to parts unknown, assuredly out of Iowa in any case.”

    “Nothing has been done to stop them then?”

    Rifling through his notes DeNiro seemed to search for a particular notation. Placing his finger on the point he was seeking he read it verbatim.

    ‘Report received from officers manning roadblocks in the area of IAAP that a convoy of 11 tractor-trailers, heavily loaded, departed from the immediate vicinity of the IAAP. Attempts by officers to halt the trucks to ascertain their cargoes were met with hostile action. The roadblock was destroyed when two large tractor-trailers traveling side-by-side rammed the barricades, causing destruction of one patrol cruiser and and unspecified number of traffic flow barricades.

    Accordingly, I have issued instructions that no further attempts to block either the in-flow or out-flow of large vehicles from the area. This office does not have the manpower nor physical resources to confront these vehicles when they operated in this manner. The State government is better equipped to address such actions than we are, owing in large part to the severe understaffing of this office, and with this report I am giving notice that I have henceforth instructed my personnel to ensure the public safety and restrict civilian and media access only and under no circumstance, save unless they are fired upon or otherwise directly threatened, to offer resistance.

    Signed,

    Dean Collis
    Sheriff, Lee County, Iowa’

    “Does that answer your question, sir?”

    The Governor looked pensive as he digested the report. Then, “You mean between the city departments and the County they can’t pull together enough uniformed officers to deal wth this matter?”

    “Well, sir, in their defense I do have to say that this really is a federal matter, owing to the nature of the plant grounds themselves. Also, as per previously issued instructions from the Department of Homeland Security the city officers are already stretched this guarding the crucial river locks and dam, the bridges, and the railroad yards. I rather doubt the Sheriff has more than 40 men on his roster to begin with. In any case that department is not on the list of those that upgraded to include surplus military vehicles when they were offered a few years ago. Most likely the largest vehicle they own is converted SUV. You are talking about blocking 80,000 pounds of moving steel operated by a fanatic.”

    Governor Balsack started to drum his fingers on the top of the cherrywood desk that was the center of his work area. A wave of exasperation crossed his features, a lose strand of greying hair waving in the slight breeze afforded by the AC system. His eyes were focused on some unseen point seemingly outside the immediate room.

    After a couple of minutes of distant thought he seemed to come back to the present. “You said this is a federal matter. So how does it concern us as more than a passing item of interest?”

    DeNiro sat forward, seeming to jump at the offered opening.

    “Under the provisions of the Executive Order you had read into law earlier this week you can direct intervention on behalf of the federal government, using State forces drawn from throughout the state. Besides National Guard units there are county agencies, and the Iowa Office of Homeland Security. I’m sure I could have a report on the numbers of men available for reassignment by the end of the day.”

    In truth DeNiro already had the report prepared. He had only to guide the Governor into thinking that the decision to call on the avalaible manpower resources was his own. Such was the burden borne by the embedded agent provocateur.

    The powers that were in Washington saw Iowa as a key player in a much larger plan. Owing to her position between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers the state represented a key blocking point. Were effective control to be lost the direct route west would be in the wrong hands. That bode ill for future expansion into the western states. Once across the Missouri there were no effective natural barriers before Denver and Cheyenne.

    Across the Missouri also lay Offutt AFB, still home to SAC. While officially under federal control, as were all the other armed services bases scattered throughout the country, they had resisted first suggestions and later outright commands to make use of ther facilities in the take-over of the country. Feigning national security interests of a higher level than mere “rebel” resistance men and women at Offutt continued with their task of watching America’s skies in case a stronger foreign power saw fit to take advantage of the situation and launch a strategic attack.

    Likewise Cheyenne Mountain outside Colorado Springs, home to NORAD, kept their distance. Budget cuts originating with a previous administration had eliminated much of the redundancy built into the space-born intelligence systems under NORAD’s command. Exaggerated in effect it made for a simple but effective ruse, keeping resources from being turned inwards toward the continental US and thus aiding in the subjugation of the American nation.

    End Chapter XIII Part III
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

    http://medtech.syrene.net/forum/

    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Formerly Iowa - now western Arizona
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    1,617
    Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

    In the quiet gloom of the night a dim light shown briefly as a door was opened and a dark figure stepped out. The light was quickly extinguished as the door shut once again. Footsteps could be heard as feet disturbed the gravel. A vehicle door was heard to squeek open but no interior light cast its tattletale glow. The door closed again with a quiet ‘thunk’ and the sound of an engine starting up followed.
    The night air grew quiet once again as the sound of the motor disappeared into the twilight. Only the creatures of the night, newly emerged from their daylight refuges, were witness to the activity.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    “Oh my God, I almost forgot!”

    Karl, Belloc, and everyone else in the room for that matter, looked to Andrea with quizzical expressions.

    “Sorry, I just remembered, I have another patient on the way. I was so involved with your buddy I completely forgot for a time.”

    Belloc spoke up: “What sort of patient, from where?”

    Andrea turned to address him. “You may have noticed that I don’t have much to work with.” Belloc nodded. “I wasn’t supposed to be operational yet. Not that it matters. Patients just seem to turn up whenever they feel like it. No insult intended of course.”

    “None taken. But how does that square with this other patient?”

    Andrea took in a deep breath and let it out in a frustrated rush. “My supplies are supposed to be on the way. In fact, they should have been here by now. But there was a problem on the way. I don’t know the details but the driver was wounded in some fashion. Not badly from what I was given to understand, but injured in any case. He should have been here by now. Maybe even before your arrival.”

    Belloc seemed to regard this new information for a moment, then turned to the nearest soldier. “Ken, go outside and station yourself so you can see down the road. Watch for any lights coming this way and give a shout if you see or hear anything. We won’t get much notice because of the hills but you ought to be able to see a glow from the headlights well before anyone crests the hill either direction.”

    Ken nodded and headed out the door, saying over his shoulder as he did so, “You got, sarge.”

    Then turning back to address the other soldier, You find a hidey-hole somewhere between Ken and here and relay any message. Keep your own ears tuned for anything coming from any direction other than the road, and be sure to sing out if you do. Better yet, hightail it back in here and report. We may want to set up a reception committee.”

    Then looking at Karl he said, “Anything you can think of? Not like we are going to get much notice.”

    Andrea looked at first Belloc, then Karl. “You’re worried about a possible security breach, that instead of being wounded the driver may have been captured and given directions to this place.”

    Karl took up the reply: “Yes, ma’am, you’re thinking about right. Folks I chatted with didn’t give me any indication of problems. For that matter if they knew of any they wouldn’t have directed me here to begin with. But it’s always possible.” Then turning to address Belloc he stared at him for moment before forming his reply.
    “Not knowing the lay of things here it’s hard to say. Personally I’d prefer some trips set around the back side. Right now there’s you, me, and the other two guys. Even without any sack time we’d be hard pressed to establish any sort of perimeter watch much less defense.”

    Belloc nodded in turn, considering the situation. “I noticed we had a few buildings around the yard. Too easy to mask an approach around here, and like you said, we don’t know the lay. We’ve got a quarter moon to work with but that’s about it. Good for anyone trying to sneak and peek, piss poor for us.” Karl just responded with an acknowledging “Yeah.”

    “Ahem.” Andrea cleared her throat for attention. “Gentlemen, first off I don’t believe we have been properly introduced. I suggest we start with introductions all around, and then worry about whether or not we need to establish a guard detail tonight. In between we can go over a few details that seem to be missing, such as how you found me, and if I deem it necessary the security arrangements in place already. Sound like a plan?”

    Karl turned his head slightly to catch his buddy’s eye. “The lady has a point. What say we hear her out.” Belloc nodded his head. “Okay, that she does. I suggest we start talking before you manage to get busy again.”

    “Fine. First, I’m Irene. I’m in charge of this station. I’m an RN, have a few years of practice under my belt, and a lot of on-the-side theoretical and practical training. I believe you,” she said, looking pointedly at Karl, “took note of the fact that I am armed. I’m not an IPSC shooter but I can damn well hit what I’m aiming at within 50 yards. Not only can but will. Bet on it.”

    Karl issued forth with a low whistle. “I think I may be in love.” Belloc grinned and Andrea gave Karl a glower. From beyond the doorway into the kitchen area a girlish giggle was heard accompanied by a second one.

    “I’m glad to know that you take me seriously” Andrea stated in a flat voice.

    “Irene, I didn’t mean it that way. Honest. I saw you reach back when I first approached you and figured you meant business. An amateur would have signaled their intentions a lot clearer by reaching back with both hands. Besides, I was told to approach you cautiously so there’d be no misunderstandings.”

    “Apology accepted. Now since I hear the presense of the other members of my staff nearby I’ll take the opportunity to introduce them. Ladies, if you would please come in here for a minute?”

    There was the sound of a shuffling of feet then the reappearance of the girls from the kitchen where they’d retreated after the immediate crisis was over. Feeling like fish out of water they hadn’t known what else to do and the presense of four strange men, in addition to the patient, made them a bit uneasy, nevermind that 3 of them were in military uniform and one openly carried a pistol on his hip.

    "Gentlemen, allow me to introduce my staff to date. First, this is Sara. She is my First Assistant and will no doubt make a very fine nurse some day in spite of my tutelage.” Sara smiled at this.

    “Next we have Ruth, who is my other Assistant. She will be working with Sara and I providing patient care.” Ruth made a polite bowing of her head to show who she was.

    “Finally, and certainly not least we have the key to our little team – Jeanette. Jeanette will be in charge of cooking for all of us.” Jeanette, being the shy and most unassuming of the girls blushed at her introduction.

    She paused for a moment to gather her thoughts and then continued. “As you may or may not have gathered the girls are Amish. They are here of their own accord as volunteers. They are not combatants in any sense. I’ve already briefly discussed their roles with them in that regard. I expect that they’ll undergo quite a bit of culture shock in the next few days much less later, so I would ask that you try not to add too much to that and watch your language. Good help is hard to find these days and these young ladies are a true Godsend.”

    Karl nodded. “Agreed.” Belloc likewise added his assurance that he and his men would take the request to heart.

    “Very good. Now then, who’s to be next?”

    Karl made a introductory wave of his hand. “Guess that would be me since I’m responsible for us being here. I’m Karl. I farm, do machine work, some general tinkering other things.” He deliberately failed to elaborate what the ‘other things’ might happen to be. Considering the current state of affairs it was sometimes best not to inquire too deeply. “ I came here because as might have mentioned earlier I was given directions by some mutual friends. I understand we’re running some close OPSEC so I’ll leave it for others tell you. Rock and I have been friends for years, so when he looked me up I agreed to help.”

    Belloc then made his introductions. “I’m Belloc, or Rock for short. Sergeant, Wisconsin National Guard. The men with me’re part of those where I was stationed until we got overran. Dan… err, ahh, in there yonder, was one of my men. Guess now we are officially on detached duty. Not much to go back to I guess ‘ceptin arrest if we are lucky. Don’t know what the new owners would say about us taking off with a government vehicle without askin’ but I don’t care to find out.”

    “As fer the men with me, Ken, the blonde feller, he’s young as you can see, been in a few years and he’s not dum. Engine mechanic back at the base, pulls his load. Other feller, Wendall, he’s a farm boy, likes to raise dairy cattle and was trying to save up for his own place. Kind of innocent in a way, if you know what I’m a getting at. Don’t expect he’ll cause you any problems with the girls save fer trippin’ over his tongue a lot.”

    Andrea had to smile at that in spite of herself. “Well, I’m sure we can rig something up given a bit of time so that the poor boy doesn’t injure himself.” The girls giggled as one at that.

    Continuing as if she’d not heard the amusement Andrea addressed the two men.

    “You are correct regarding OPSEC. I’ve managed to make my own plans over the years but this is well beyond me. For that matter, without the mutual friends you mentioned, Karl, I wouldn’t be here but rather farther east in who-knows-what for a shelter. I dare say this suffices nicely for now, and in any case it seems I don’t need to be east of the Mississippi to find business. I am under the impression that Wisconsin is now officially part of the front as it is.” Belloc nodded in affirmation. “So, I can see that I need to get busy and get this show on the road. Sara, please look in on our patient. I’ll take a couple of minutes here shortly and join.”

    Sara made a slight curtsy and responded with a polite “Yes, ma’am.” and went into the next room.

    Jeanette, I know there isn’t much to work with right now but if you could bring together something in the way of food for these gentlemen and some coffee I’m sure they’d appreciate it.” Another “Yes, ma’am” and Jeanette took her cue to hussle into the kitchen and start working. Ruth looked at Andrea expectantly.

    “And you, young lady, please show our guests to the washroom so they can clean up a bit. There’s soap in there but no hot water. While they wash if you’d go out to my Blazer and grab a couple of towels from the back seat they might appreciate it.”

    “Right away, ma’am. Would you come with me, please?” Karl looked at Belloc, who shrugged his shoulders in return. Both turned and followed Ruth into the kitchen and the bathroom in the rear. Once situated Ruth then ran past Andrea to the vehicle parked beside the house.

    Andrea then took a moment to herself to take stock of the situation. Her bag was almost depleted of the more useful supplies. Her IV solutions were either running into her patient already or slated for him in the coming few hours. She’d used the bulk of her bandages and dressings, her ready supply of morphine was half depleted and the remainder also slated for the patient in the next room. Her oxygen bottle was running down quickly and would be finished within the hour. And she still had another wounded man perhaps moments from her doorstep. Well, there was nothing to do but see what was what when her other case arrived.

    Just then Wendall came running up to the door. “Ken says he sees lights a coming over the hill from the southeast. Might be who you’s waiting on.”

    Andrea’s mind kicked out of her mental checklist and into action. “Okay, find a dark spot and stay out of sight. Oh damn, I wish you had a rifle or something. Just in case.”

    From the kitchen boomed Karl’s voice. “I heard that! Check the cab of my truck. Grab the AK and a sling of ammo and then do as she says.”

    Wendall’s face took on a confused look. “Uhh, I don’t know nothing about no AK. Never used one.”

    Booted feet hit the hardwood floor in a rush and Karl came charging through the doorway headed towards the outdoors, followed by Belloc close on his heels. Poor Wendall was left standing there on the porch looking even more confused than ever. Andrea saw his expression, and remembering what she’d just been told about his background issued a quick order.

    “Go! Follow them, do what they tell you, but go!” The sound of a heavy motor was beginning to make it’s way through the night air to their ears, straining as if under a load. Too light for a truck, yet heavier than a car’s engine would sound. Something wasn’t right here.

    Wendall left without another word.

    End Chapter XIII Part IV
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

    http://medtech.syrene.net/forum/

    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    Formerly Iowa - now western Arizona
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    Chapter XII Part V

    Dateline: Interstate 380 Near Urbana, Iowa

    “First drop is at Vinton. From there I go on to La Porte City, Independence, Manchester, Strawberry Point, over back to Oelwein, Waverly and east a bit. My last drop is a pair of axels and a couple cases of stuff at Marshalltown. Then back to Des Moines for the rest of the night. Tommorrow’s the southern route, then the next night back up this way again. It’s all there in the manifest. Tonight’s run, that is.”

    The patrolman had a look of casual indifference to the driver’s words, as if he’d heard it all before. He had, granted, but nevertheless he had to check. He was younger, in his late 20’s. He took his orders and carried them out without question. He also made it a habit to question people carefully, looking for implausibilities in their explanations, anything to justify a search. He’d once turned up a mixed load of meth and marijuana when the driver of the van couldn’t explain to his satisfaction why the vehicle was riding so low on the suspension. Turned out the suspension was almost shot and didn’t ride at the normal height any way, but it was still ruled probable cause and the hapless drug trafficker sent away for 15-20 years. He’d received an official letter of commendation for his sharp eye and was looking for another one to add to his file. Anything that’d look good when the time came to apply for the federal job he’d long desired.

    “Riding sort of low on the springs, aren’t you?”

    “Check the manifest, sir. Besides the axels there’s a Cummins diesel engine due out at Manchester. That’s close to 800 pounds by itself. I weighed already and I’m under the limit. Company don’t let me go out overweight but sometimes the warehouse boys don’t mind what their doing too well. I’m not up for paying any overweight tickets. Got a portable scale and we can make sure. I don’t mind.”

    The Trooper’s index of suspicion was riding high for some reason. Perhaps it was the driver’s chatty attitude, maybe the heavy load. But his explanations matched the manifest bill alright. Maybe the guy was just naturally a talker. Maybe.
    He’d seen the auto parts trucks before, of course. But there was something that nagged at the back of his mind. If he could just recall what it was. La Porte City he said? That was it!

    “I don’t recall there being a store in La Porte City.”

    The truck driver just harrumped a bit. “Course there is. Not the same name you understand but it’s there. See, right on the manifest, middle of town.”

    “But this has another company name on it, not your’s.”

    “Course not. Store’s not owned by the same people. Now the parts you understand, they all come from the same place. Most of them any ways. Made down in Mexico.” He pronounced it as Meh-HEE-co. “They just change the boxes, come out of the same warehouse. We got the delivery contract for that store six or seven months ago. They don’t compete with any of our stores in the area so the bosses they don’t care what brand we carry so long as the money’s good. You’d be surprised at all the companies that carry the same exact parts from the same place. Just change the boxes, price ‘em a little bit less or more and ol’ Johny Shadetree he don’t know the difference. He thinks one brand is better than the other, but they’re all the same. Take that to the bank.”

    The Trooper was growing weary of the verbal barrage. This guy would talk his leg off if he gave him the chance. He was tempted, sorely tempted, to have him break the seal on the rear door and have him count cases against the manifest, just on the very slight chance that the guy was carrying a couple boxes of his own that didn’t show. It’d been done before. Just drop an extra package on the back step of the store during the regular delivery and the newest supply of crank or crack or happy pills would be grabbed by the local connection within minutes of the truck departing. All done in the middle of the night with no one the wiser.

    Making up his mind that this guy wasn’t worth the extra hassle he decided to wave him on. The lights all worked, he wasn’t speeding, his manifest seemed to be in order. But man could he talk. 20 words when a couple would do. Headaches he didn’t need tonight with the manhunt going on for that 18-wheeler. Time to get back on patrol and let Chatty deliver whatever he might have in the way of extras if any. It was his lucky night whether he knew it or not.

    Handing back the manifest, DL and insurance cards he addressed the driver once again. “Just stick to your route tonight and you’ll be okay. And if you happen to see a White semi with a trailer, or even without one, call us, will you?”

    “A white semi? Lord, I’ve seen 2 – 3 dozen of them already around Des Moines. One looks like the rest. Most have trailers, some were parked at Bosselman’s, others on the road.”

    “Not white color, a White brand tractor. It’s blue in color.”

    “Okay, I understand you now. I see one I’ll call in. Have a PCS unit of course, company provides that. Won’t cost me a nickel to call in. Any reason you’re looking for this truck? Something I ought to steer clear of? I sure don’t need any trouble out of the road.”

    “The driver is wanted for a shooting. If you see anything just call it in, please.”

    “Yessir, I sure will. Don’t need any of that these days. Makes the rest of us look bad, even if I do drive this midget hauler. Not a bad drive, just not for long hauls. No room as you can see. No sleeper. That’s what my bed is for at home. Short hauls, seven, maybe eight hours tops on the road and it’s back home in my own bed.”

    “Thank you, sir. Please keep the speed down too. Better to be late than never arrive. Goodnight, sir.”

    With that the Trooper walked back to his patrol car and re-entered it. He sighed to himself. Just his luck he found a driver who wanted to jaw on endlessly. Most would clam up, say ‘Yessir, no sir, was I speeding, Officer?’ Not this guy. Man, he could pick them! Time to go find that fugitive truck and get away from the ratchetjaw.

    Flicking off the warning flashers concealed in the taillights and the direction bar on the rear deck he didn’t bother to wait for the trucker but pulled out and quickly crossed into the other lane and drove through the the median to complete a u-turn. If the trucker pulled anything he didn’t want to be around to witness it. If he did he’d be obligated to stop him again and then he’d have to listen to his long-winded explanations.

    Back in the Isuzu the driver was grinning like a Cheshire cat. ‘Works like a charm every time’ he thought to himself. He popped the transmission into Drive and pulled back onto the 4-lane, acting as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

    Dateline: Virginia Aid Station

    The recent lull in pitched battles was having a positive effect on the efforts of the aid station. Several more volunteers had trickled in.

    There was Dr. Binazi, a genial fellow of Lebanese descent, a resident of the US for some 32 years now and still affecting a strong trace of his native accent. The fact that he was a naturalized citizen, had taken his medical training in the US and was a devout Baptist weighed heavily in his favor, even after one of the civilian orderlies spoke glowingly on his behalf. Being a gastroenterologist his services were more than welcome. Belly wounds had presented a major problem for the harried surgeons and Dr. Binazi had an unusually adept pair of hands. His ability to run a bowel and find even minute bleeders, resect it in record time and save more tissue than his compatriots were comfortable with went a long ways.

    Joshua Kirksey was a civilian volunteer. The extent of his medical training was limited to Red Cross first aid coures through his former employer, a now-destroyed asbestos abatement firm. Joshua was an accountant with a nagging history of asthma such as kept him from joining up with a fighting force. But with Falls Church, VA firmly under government control there was no work and too much chance of being “recruited” for one of the new refugee offices that had sprouted up. His wife and daughter had been sent to her maternal grandparents’ resort in Michigan for the duration. With them safely seen to Joshua struck out to offer what services he could. He was quickly pressed into action in what most would regard as a menial position; Josh was an exception. Handling bedpans and urinals and lifting and turning patients was not something he found beneath him but rather gave him a sense of real service. Despite his seemingly frail countenance he was strong and quick-witted.

    Beside Joshua worked Sheryl Grether, a CNA in her former life. The care center she had worked for was no longer in operation, closed down as non-essential as well as endangered by the fighting in the area. Fuel was hard to come by where she lived so she used the last few gallons to head northwest towards an area reputed to be semi-safe. Stopped twice by roadblocks she had offered as proof of her intent to gain employment at the regional Veteran’s Hospital an appointment letter she’d fabricated on the computer with the help of a friend, stuffed inside a legitimate Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs envelope she’d fished out of the trash at work. Careful editing had replaced the original recipient’s name with her own.

    Sheryl was competant enough to manage herself. She taught Joshua what needed to be done, as did the harried nursing staff. Between the two of them they managed a growing ward of now 23 bedfast cases in a manner than would have been the subject of glowing job reviews, were such even considered under their present circumstances.

    Jacelyn “Jaci” Ferry, an RN of nearly 20 years experience, managed the post-op ward during the daytime 12 hours. In this she was assisted as time permitted by the other nurses not busy in the improvised OR. Owing to the shortage of personnel, though that was being slowly addressed, shifts were 12 hours long with a day off per week. In truth 15-18 hour days were more the norm than not.

    The nurses were stretched every bit as tight as the docs if not more so. An involved surgery, even at the meatball level, might take 5-6 hours. Recovery time on the other hand was primarily a nursing responsibility which took days if not weeks. The nurses staffed the OR to assist the docs, and they in turn started an appreciable number of their own IVs, performed their own wound care in no few cases, and even performed routine physical therapy as called for vis a vis’ their own orders. The line of demarkation between the positions became more blurred all the time. The docs taught the nurses and learned themselves likewise. Dr. Binazi himself had taken over most of the bedside care for one touch-and-go case until it became apparent the man would make it despite catching a 3-round burst across the midsection. During the course of his care ostomy bags had to be improvised from sandwich bags and a couple of bottles of old-fashioned muscilage. The results leaked, smelled, and worked.

    The supply situation waxed and waned over the weeks since the hidden field hospital had come into being. There was of course no way the unit could purchase their supplies through regular channels. Never mind that not all supply outlets might not be sympathetic. The danger lay as much in leaving behind records that could tell tales in and of themselves. Even subterfuge could only go so far. Few country veterinary clinics could explain a sudden need for 140 cases of mixed IV fluids, or enough casting material to encase a small herd of bovines. With some patients taking as many as three cases of IV fluids over the course of time, or the lack of suitable external fixation frames for fractures, both items were much in demand. Likewise latex and vinyl gloves, large dressings, IV tubings and catheters and a myriad of other items. There were always promises of more supplies but the internal war was still in its infancy and few people had ever anticipated the need for non-governmental field hospitals. The infrastructure had to be developed on the fly as a result.

    Scavanging was as much the name of the game as anything. Word had been passed up and down the line to the various units opposing the Loyalist forces that any and all medical supplies, no matter how benign seeming, were not only wanted but perhaps desperately so. Any hospital, clinic or care center that had been closed or damaged due to the fighting was considered fair game. Likewise supermarket and discount center pharmacies were also raided for usable supplies.

    Competing with the Rebel forces were junkies, opportunists and enterprising operators out to make a quick buck. Success at finding supplies varied widely. An industrial warehouse in lower NY state had partly burned, destroying pallets of gloves destined for eventual shipment across several states. All that remained was a mass of melted goo. Nothing was salvaged of a medical nature though a fair number of non-medical items were located and hauled off.

    For Randy Harbors, along with the others staffing the field hospital, it was the cause of more than a little frustration. They needed to get a regular supply chain going if they were to succeed in their mission. Even ammo was easier to come by. The good ol’ boys and girls had stashed cases of .223 and .308 for decades. Few ever thought they’d have to worry about Band-aids and Bismolene.

    There were of course local hospitals that accepted cases from the Rebel forces. In such instances the hospitals were located far enough away from the lines, irregular as they were, that there was little imminent threat of government forces barging in. Hospital administrators were a prickly lot though, more worried about the bottom line and running afoul of the regulations than acting decisively. No facility would accept more than a few cases at best, ideally those that could not be readily identified as militia forces. No one would question a child with a gunshot wound or blast injury. It happened, whether the result of deliberate intent (seldom) or mere chance. But any man between the ages of 16 and 60 was automatically suspect, and even most women as well. Some cases were passed off as gangbanger-inflicted. Occasionally records were altered to reflect motor vehicle collision injuries. Industrial accidents might account for a few cases. But when the chart said “multiple penetrating injuries” there was little chance of denying the obvious.

    Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

    Charlotte’s people remained busy even after the relief truck was packed and on its way. Everything they could acquire on a few hour’s notice had been packed in hastily, along with more gear from the storage unit and other secure locations. Nevertheless it still represented but a fraction of what they had determined would be needed eventually.

    The group had its own communications section. The boom in interest in shortwave communications the past few years had provided a convenient cover for members scattered across a 3-state area, most often located in small towns and tucked away on farms and rural acreages. Digital spurt transmissions saved time, provided security and attracted little more attention than usual even during the current crisis. With the appeal of wireless internet it was easy to conceal transmissions in routine downloads and uploads. Long, boring crop and livestock market reports passed back and forth between members aligned with a legitimate agricultural management grange concealed messages between regional subgroups.

    In all the group could call upon the resources of several millions of dollars in hard and soft assets. Safeguards had been put into place years before to prevent misuse of the assets, saving them for the proverbial rainy day. While the current situation wasn’t precisely what the group had imagined that day might bring it more than sufficed to trigger tremendous activity.

    Businessmen and homemakers alike had pledged everything they could based upon a simple principal: when “The Day” arrived there would be no holding back, no backing out. The core members of the association had agreed long before that once activated the efforts would be do or die. Retirement packages, investments, vacations and more would be a thing of the past. All efforts would be directed at addressing the triggering event, whether it was naturally occuring or manmade.
    More supplies would be gathered. Yard sales, auctions, flea markets, salvage stores and others were targeted for visits. Newspapers and on-line clearinghouses were scrutinized for opportunities. Hidden caches would be opened to reveal arms, munitions, clothing and gear, tools, fuels, foodstuffs and more. Highly illegal communication devices would be gathered from hidden crevices and placed into operation, augmenting those already dedicated to the Rebel forces. The airwaves would be searched for raw data to convert into intel, hard lines tapped that were thought to be secure. The association’s version of sleeper agents would be activated to feed data, resources and opportunities to the larger group and its affiliates scattered across 31 states.

    People who had never plugged into the Internet worked in the background, safely disconnected from others who had chosen by innocence or design to make themselves public. The public members formed the open, and therefore discoverable, contacts. The others, most of whose stations in life would not have caught the attention of so much as even a marketing survey firm, formed the deep underground security net. They could move with impunity in the oceans of commerce and society.

    The network was well organized overall, but hardly without flaws. Owing to the tight security it was not only possible but routine for members and affiliates to live within a mile of each other, and even pass on the street, and not know that the other person was part of the structure. Compartmentalization was the rule, and no one person knew all of the membership. Ottumwa and the immediate area held some 93 members over the age of 14. Between them they could account for certain knowledge of and the ability to contact perhaps another 180 persons. In turn those people could contact perhaps three times that number. Given time, resources, patience and more than a bit of luck a party could decipher much of the network but there would still be those deeply hidden away. Some people had never met another person face-to-face. Contact was limited to the modern equivalent of mail drops and anonymous voices on the phone. More than one person wasn’t even aware that they were considered part of the network but still made contributions in kind. For the most part this consisted of information or materials.

    In the town of Memphis, Missouri, the proprietor of a local hardware and surplus store had had semi-regular customers for 6 years who purchased items not normally called for. The odd bit of military surplus outside the norm would find ready purchasers, seldom the same person. An electronics hobbyist, for instance, bought up all of the medical electronics inventory over time, including cardiac monitors, a mismatched pair of cautery units, assorted lab equipment and other items. In between he also gathered circuit boards, bulbs, cables, capacitors and more – all readily explainable as salvage parts, perhaps to be used with various tinkering projects, other times to be sold or traded. All perfectly legitimate, and extremely useful in the long run.

    Another affiliate in Kentucky ran an eBay store, buying and selling a wide assortment of goods. His success was enough to vault him well into the Power Seller category. Books, clothing, military surplus, electronics, tools, old photographs, software, games - whatever he could find cheap and make a penny or a dollar on. Funds collected supported him, and some found their way into the group pot. More likely than not though he acquired goods that were distributed and stored. Sometimes they were bought from his auctions, with him having no way of knowing if the buyer was affiliated or not. Other times they were quietly set aside from the regular auction inventory. Now few of these items ended up on the table at selected flea markets. A newer type of military gasmask, not otherwise authorized for civilian sale, was included in this last lot. He knew very well what items appearing on auction might initiate inquiries he’d rather not contend with. A quad of these particular masks had eventually found their way to Iowa several years past.

    End Chapter XII Part V
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  5. #45
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    Chapter XIII Part VI

    Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

    Chacka had had enough. Time to blow this muthah and move on to the next street. Looking back in the direction he’d come from he could see helmet-shielded eyes watching him, surrounded by mostly pale skin. Mostly. No matter where they went, he and the other American troops, there was always at least one Royalist “advisor” attached to them. “Bastids don’ trust us,’ he thought to himself. “They don’ think we kin fight. Bastids anyway, showed them plenty o’ times back in the Big war. Poleetiks was all it was. Jus’ poleetiks.’

    Never did the thought enter Chacka’s semi-fried brain that he had certainly never showed “them” anything several years back. He’d not been enlisted then, instead still running the streets of the ‘hood.

    Well, he’d show them now for sure. He didn’t care who was giving the orders so long as he was fed and paid on time. The only concern he had was that it wasn’t their erstwhile foreign allies who were firing at him but whomever was inside the now-ravaged beauty shop. Pop the lever, toss the gren and let them see what ther efforts netted them.

    From the distance Payton watched with growing anticipation, his thumb resting ever so lightly on the button. If he timed this right he might snag one of the Royalists. Even if he didn’t he’d still have the satisfaction of seeing at least a couple go down before he boogeyed out.

    Chest heaving with anxious breathing Chacka nodded again at the men watching from across the street. The answer was the pulling in of rifles to shoulders as they prepared to provide covering fire. Holding up his free hand he waved it to call their attention to the fingers he was holding up. Signaling them he pulled back another step away from the side of the window, thence winced as a quick wall of suppressive fire erupted towards the window and the far side of the building from Chacka.

    The fire stopped as quick as it had began and Chacka took a short step followed by a longer one as he arced his right arm around, letting fly the release lever as he did. The window erupted in a sustained burst of automatic fire, barely missing him as he heaved the gren through the opening then half fell, half leaped away to the left side, diving and rolling towards the slight safety of the porch drop off. behind him, just as he reached the ground and buried his head in his arms the building seemed to spurt fire for an instant as the grenade went off, destroying everything in the room.

    Payton continued his observation, letting out a deep disappointed sigh as he watched Chacka dive away from the window.

    Silence from within the little shop. The Royalist non-com was yelling at his American comrades, urging them forward to finish off any remaining survivors. Five men ran in quick staggered approaches across the street, one leaping through the shattered window casing like a modern day Errol Flynn. The sight that greeted him stopped him cold.

    A pile of sandbags, a broken, shattered patio table, and an AK apparently fastened to the table somehow, its barrel now bent to the side. A 40 round magazine was stuffed in the well, expended brass cases littering the floor.
    Upon closer examination it was determined that the gun had been fired by remote control, a simple servo motor fitted to the trigger housing, a bungee cord - shielded by cloth and aluminum foil to protect it from the barrel’s heat - strapped across the front handguard. It was just loose enough that the barrel would swivel an inch or two side to side from the recoil, giving the illusion of changing aim. The sandbags protected the platform from the first grenade tossed at the outside of the building but failed to stave off the closer explosion. Checking further they found that it didn’t matter – the magazine was emptied with the last burst. They’d been suckered.

    Atop another building watching eyes peered through a drain hole. Carefully whispered instructions followed. More surprises to cover the small force’s retreat while inflicting some real casualties in the bargain.

    Well away from the scene Payton pocketed the remote unit and moved a short distance to the spot he’d selected for his sniping. His tool of choice was an Accuracy International Super Magnum, chambered in .338 Lapua (8.60 x 70 mm). Sporting a 28” barrel with a 1:8 right hand twist, a 5-round box magazine and weighing in at nearly 15 pounds without the scope it was not a small man’s rifle.
    Dropping to the ground he picked up his weapon off the ground cloth and dropped the Parker-Hale bipod. Earlier he’d laser-ranged the distance at 422 meters, easily within range of both the weapon and his skills.

    Dateline: Des Moines, Iowa

    “You are listening to me, John Mickals, once again. I am talking to you from KWHO Radio in beautiful, liberal Des Moines, Iowa. Yes, I said it and I mean it – liberal. As the obviously LIBERAL caller just before our break was illustrating all too well, Des Moines has become a haven for the liberal element infesting this once great state. I say once great, because as any thinking person can see, Iowa is no longer fields of green and a state of minds. Instead it has become, as so many other states before it – Iowa is hardly alone in this present state, being preceded long before by the likes of Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, Oregon, California of course, we all know that, and Florida, Indiana, Minnesota and others – a bastion of liberalism, whereby the liberal minority rules the conservative majority.”

    John was on a roll this morning. His listening audience had grown immensely over the years, rivaling that of larger names in talk radio. Seldom heard live outside the Midwest he was nevertheless popular on the Internet rebroadcast circuit. His diatribes, or rants as his detractors preferred to call them, were increasingly popular the past couple of months. One of his favorite topics of late had been the issue of healthcare since the change in administrations and the subsequent semi-collapse of the economy.

    “Governor BALsack’s office has just released a document endorsing the Eastern Healthcare Resource Initiative – the one they refer to by the moniker “Airey” – without a SINGLE word of criticism. Not a word. Folks, this so-called intitiative will strip the rest of the country - that includes Iowa, by the way – of much needed healthcare resources including drugs, sterile supplies, x-ray film, IVs, surgical instruments, almost anything you can think of. This isn’t about changing the reimbursement formulas, this initiative calls for making shipment of healthcare materials of any form, right down to non-presciption cough medicine for your kids, a national priority. all in the name of “alleviating the suffering of the cherished peoples of the afflicted eastern seaboard states who have been much maligned by the inhumane suffering inflicted upon them by criminal forces intent upon furthering their evil, anti-American agenda.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is a direct quote from the so-called initiative.

    “One of these days I am afraid I may say too much and really offend someone. More than I normally do that is.” [short laugh] “Right now we are going to take another break then open the line to callers again. I’m John Mickals.”

    Dateline: Virginia PAS Convoy

    A vehicle – it was hard to tell in the dark what it was precisely but it appeared to be a pick-up of indeterminate age – came to a halt within visual distance of the 2-vehicle convoy. Facing the erstwhile survey truck and converted motor home it shut down its headlamps and sat silent and dark for a moment. Then a series of flashes began, using only the parking lights. 1 – 2 – pause. 1 – 2 – pause. 1 – pause. 1-2-3-4-5 – pause. The agreed to recognition signal. the 4th series of flashes would come in quick succession. Had they come in the slower manner of the first sets the convoy would have known the meet was compromised. A sigh of relief went through the watchers in the two vehicles; the signal indicated all was well.

    The next time they saw lights from the other vehicle they were taillights. The pick-up had turned around in the dark and now was to lead them to their destination. The journey would be over soon, no more than 20 minutes time. It could not have come soon enough for either the patients or their protectors.
    Starting off slowly they gained speed until they matched approximately the speed of their guide, a reasonably sedate 45 MPH. A safe distance of 100 yards was established between each vehicle to allow reaction time should any adverse event occur. If nothing else there were always the deer that came out at twilight to start their foraging.

    The entire transit had been one wrought with anxiety. This was the first of what they hoped would be regular trips to a safe area. Security was a concern. granted, they fully expected it would only grow worse with time but with the continuously changing state of affairs across the country you hardly knew from one day to the next where you were reasonably safe from inspection and where the peril might be unexpectedly greatest. Plus the information they had was a bit sketchy. All they really knew was the aid station had been established and would be receiving patients by the time they arrived. In truth theirs represented the first deliberate patients, and unexpected ones at that. Unbeknownst to either themselves or the Ottumwa group there had been a minor mix-up in communications. Things had progressed a bit slower than originally anticipated and the revised start-up date had not been passed along through the intermediary.

    They expected to find a staffed and equipped aid station better suited to handle cases such as they were carrying, not to mention in a quieter area very unlikely to be directly threatened by enemy action. What they would find, however, was one nurse assisted by three unexpected non-medical apprentices, supplies limited to a personal aid bag, and still unknown to them owing to a media semi-blackout the recent overtaking of Fort McCoy.

    The weary troupe motored on, unaware that they would find confusion instead of an oasis.

    End Chapter XIII Part VI
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  6. #46
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    Chapter XIII Part VII

    Dateline: Rural Iowa Near Boone

    The two remaining sections of the John Muir Brigade waited in vain for word from their South Dakota contingent. For two days now they had holed up in the Racoon River Valley, safely ensconced on land owned by a local member of the one of the radical animal rights groups. Hidden amongst the lush forested areas in that part of the state they gathered around their campfires and discussed, cussed, and made plans. Eschewers of technology they nevertheless had no qualms about using its conveniences such as PCS units, wireless faxes and news derliveries downloaded to the more modern, user friendly version of the PDA.

    Rumors abounded about an accident involving an explosive charge while attempting to sabotage a dam, ag plant or other juicy target. Others opined that they’d had to flee ahead of a fast-growing pursuit and were already waiting near their eventual destination. Finally, one the newshounds came running up to the assembled group of quasi-leaders.

    “I have news, Jeremiah, about our brothers and sisters. Sadly, it is worse than we imagined.”

    Heads all around turned in heightened expectation. Other than a muttered ‘Pan protect us’ there was only hushed silence as they others within earshot of the announcement awaited the report.

    “I have just received a download from NewNet. I took a moment to send out a feeler for confirming data, which I am sorry to say was quickly ‘firmed. They aren’t coming.”

    A low moan of growing despair ran through those assembled. Jeremiah, the undesignated yet acknowledged leader of the group merely looked on at the news bearer, waiting patiently for him to continue.

    Taking a deep breath, the newshound seemed to gather himself for the effort to deliver the ill tidings. That he was uncomfortable doing so was quite evident.

    “News report from out of Rapid City. The group – what remains of them I guess – has been incarcerated there.” He looked down at his feet them, unwilling to volunteer more.

    Jeremiah stepped forward and put his hands on the arms of the man. Looking deeply into his face he waited until the man looked up at him, then seemed to probe into his eyes as if he could read for himself the images burned into the man’s retinas by the characters upon the small screen.

    “Be strong my brother in spirit. Tell us what you have learned, all of it, that we may offer our words and thoughts to the guiding forces we revere. By the goodness of Gaia, I ask of you the information you hold.”

    His words were soft and soothingly delivered, but his gaze was intense, almost hypnotizing. The other man felt himself compelled to continue.

    “Seh… uh… that is, seven dead, the rest are in custody behind the walls of the penitentary in Rapid City. They were ambushed by a posse down in Nebraska, near Chadron. The report didn’t say but I expect they followed too close on the heels of our group, didn’t route out far enough. The locals claimed our people initiated the fight by killing one of the officers at a roadblock. Jeremiah,” the man said, his voice taking on a pleading tone, “they – we – we wouldn’t have done that. We aren’t killers. We wouldn’t have just killed a man at a roadblock for no reason. They had to have started it first. Besides, our people were barely armed. We – they would have known better. They knew we would have sicced the legal squad on the locals and bailed them out before they could have had a chance to settle in.”

    Jeremiah simply continued to gaze deeply in the man’s eyes, not even seeming to blink so intent was his stare.

    “They were murdered!” the man shouted, losing his composure entirely. “Those damn meat-eating, earth-raping exploiters murdered our people! Farmers and ranchers and cowboys! A posse, for the love of all we hold sacred. A mob gathered for the purpose of murder they mean.”

    The man broke down in sobs as he stood there, held up now by the strong wirey arms of the man they regarded with semi-awe as a true prophet of the earth.

    Jeremiah Lundberg, a well educated man who had in a former life taught upper level classes on philosophy at a major university in the East, was also a man with an agenda. A most secret, dark agenda. One he would never reveal to any of the weak-minded fools he had gathered around him over the past several years. In truth he could have cared less about the loss of the Brigade members save that at this juncture it meant less fodder for the cannons they’d soon face. Nevertheless he was unfazed inside. He’d turn this to his advantage, strengthen the anger growing like a cancer within his followers, building it to a crescendo of blind obedience coupled with rage. Yes, this could work out nicely. He smiled wryly, an expression his followers mistook for understanding of the other man’s pain.

    At the sound of the anguished voice other Brigade members occupying nearby tent sites in the surrounding woods made their way over to the gathering. Word of the news was quickly passed around by those closest to the center until everyone had received some version. Soon they were quietly clamoring for Jeremiah’s insight. He’d know what to do, they assured each other. He always did. It was almost uncanny.

    Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

    In an dank basement a scene straight out a cheap Hollywood film was taking place. Dark candles lit the room, theirs the only light. Such outside access as there was had been carefully blocked so that no light emitted outside of the room. The walls were thick blocks of native limestone carved out the quarrey 100 years ago. They would allow no sound to pass.

    A low moaning sort of chant was heard, the words dark and unintelligable. Had a casual observor chanced upon the scene they would have found the hair on the back of their neck unwittingly on end, as if the very air were charged with electricity.

    A solitary form knelt before an icon painted in shades of red and black and yellow. The figure was cloaked, a hood covering the head, the arms outstretched in wide hanging sleeves.

    Across town another vigil was taking place. The room was softly light but devoid of deep shadow. A passerby would have noticed soft light leaking around curtains, the kind one expects to see when no particular interest other than casual privacy is at stake. As if the curtains were merely drawn in recognition of the day’s waning light.

    Several people were in attendance. Their attire was casual, everyday, reasonably simple. The seemed at ease yet earnest. One person was speaking, the others respectful in their silence.

    “For this we offer our toil and our sacrifice, foresaking reward in this life for the sake of your plan. May it be granted unto us that our efforts succeed and be found pleasing in your sight. We ask this for your greater glory, amen.”

    A chorus of quiet ‘Amen’s’ followed.

    End Chapter XIII
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    Chapter XIV - Growing Pains

    Patriot Aid Station – Chapter XIV – Growing Pains

    Dateline: Galax, Virginia

    “Okay, here we are. Everything we need, just as the doctor ordered.”

    The speaker was the purchasing agent for a smallish rural hospital, located a safe distance from any fighting, ignored thus far by both sides. People here tended to be strong-headed in comparison to their more easterly and northern citizens; they were still capable of thinking for themselves.

    Doctor Mitrisin, a Family Practitioner in his late 60’s, had ordered an enema for a particularly stubborn bowel impaction. Routine enough, just what one would expect before more drastic measures were taken. In this instance the order was for an “M & M” or milk and molasses enema. Once the culture shock wore off the order became something of an item of humor on the Med-Surg ward. A few wry comments were made by the younger members of the nursing staff concerning “crusty old farts.” It took an experienced RN by the name of Wendy to acquaint the newer members of the occupation with the tried and true remedy. One cup of milk, one cup of molasses, heat until warm enough to blend completely, cool until just warm then administer per rectum as you would any other type of enema.

    The kicker was Central Supply was completely out of ready-to-go enema kits. There were none to be had. Only a couple of Fleet’s Phosphate enemas were found, 1cup units with a prefitted tip on top of a squeezable plastic bottle. At first it was suggested that they merely empty out the original contents, refill with the homebrew mixture, administer it, refill the bottle and finish the treatment. From there nature would take its course (so it was hoped).

    Wendy raised a question that made people pause. “Why are we so low on Fleet’s?”

    No one knew right off so a call was made to Central Supply, the designated buying agent for the hospital. The reply was anything but heartening: ‘Because we haven’t been able to get any more for almost 6 weeks now. Not since Lynchburg was occupied.

    Lynchburg, population 247,000 and rising steadily before the assassinations, was home to the CB Fleet Co., manufacturer of the infamous product. Innocuous as it was it had been, unbeknownst to their customers, proscribed as of “material benefit to the enemy” and thus regulated. Shipments were available almost solely to areas firmly in federal control. For the hospital in Galax that meant no more supplies of this simple remedy. At least, not until Galax itself was included under the growing sphere of influence of the new hegemony.

    Wheels started turning inside of heads and between them the staff came up with a solution to the missing enema kits: make their own reusable appliance. Wendy remembered the stainless steel enema kits that were a stock item of hospitals and care centers everywhere a few decades ago. Galax Regional had been slow to convert over to entirely disposable supplies; perhaps they still had a few sitting in the dank regions of the storeroom that held a jumble of used but not yet disposed of equipment.

    Two hours of searching by a volunteer army of office and other personnel had turned up nothing, and the patient was in dire need of relief. The enema was the last ditch effort. If it failed then surgical intervention would be required before the bowel necrosed, ultimately causing the patient’s demise. If a proper enema kit weren’t found surgery would be the only option. Other supplies and pharmaceuticals were in short enough supply that any surgery that could be avoided these days was approached with caution.

    Dr. Mitrisin had returned to the floor to check up on the results of his ordered treatment. Upon hearing about the supply situation he harrumphed and grumped, disclaiming loudly about incompetent nurses and purchasing agents that were more worried about buying incentives than getting the job done right. When assured that they could use the prefilled syringes he turned on the speaker.

    “And what about our lady in 12B? What if she needs an enema too? Your last report indicated that her results have been nothing but small for a week! The Senna isn’t working, and neither has the Miralax. Use your last syringe on her? What about the next case, and the next? Tell them too bad, we’re out of supplies? That’s all I hear any more, ‘We’re out of supplies.’ Is there anything we AREN’T out of lately? Go buy the supplies and get to it before we have to open him up!”

    Taken aback the Nurse Manager could only stammer. “But Dr. Mitrisin, that’s just it. We can’t GET the supplies because of the conflicts. Purchasing checked, and we can’t get shipments because we are outside the area they are allowed to ship to.”

    This pacified the irate physician not in the least. “Do they teach you people ANYTHING in school any more? Send someone up to the farm store and pick up the equipment. How hard is that to figure out?”

    Wendy stepped in at this point. She knew where the good doctor was heading.

    “That would work. We could, umm…. well, we could use a feeding bottle, like for a bottle calf you know. Attach a latex tube to the nipple, and I’m sure we can come up with a nozzle that will work.”

    Now somewhat mollified Dr. Mitrisin nodded. “You’ve been around long enough that you know what I mean. I’m putting you in charge of this. Call me when you’ve got the things and I’ll come over again.”

    With that he departed, leaving a frazzled staff behind. There were the usual nasty looks behind his back but amongst the eight people who’d been witness to the temper display there were also a couple with thoughtful looks on their faces. Not everyone confined their thinking to strictly inside the box as it was currently defined.

    Dr. Mitrisin had been instrumental in the hospital’s unofficial but decidedly enforced policy of treating members of the patriot forces. During the past month alone they had released 19 cases after recovery, and 4 others were still resident. His concerns were always first and foremost the patients. Despite his gruff exterior inside the man was one of that breed often referred to as a humanitarian, though he’d have been the last person to admit to it. Patients were to be admitted regardless of ability to pay. If revenues slumped then find a way to fix them other than on the backs of those who needed the hospital’s services most. A former administrator had been wont of attending conferences and meetings that did more to allow him to network and hobnob than to actually learn new strategies. Hyatt and Regency were the hotels of choice for these junkets and more than a few first class tickets were charged to the hospital.

    In time Dr. Mitrisin had been instrumental in pressuring the board to discharge the spendthrift after a cardiac monitor with a long product history of unreliable service had been pinpointed as contributing to the death of a local patron. Bad enough that, but that same monitor had been vetoed for replacement during the annual budget battle. Capital equipment replacements had been nixed almost across the board while travel expenses soared.

    Despite a long list of golfing and social buddies filling out the board of trustees there was no denying that the cost of one rural health conference more than equaled the cost of a new monitor. When Dr. Mitrisin threatened to resign in protest the board sat up. When he added that he would be resigning so as to avoid a possible conflict of interests because he was going to spearhead a citizens’ group whose goal was to file suit against the board for gross mismanagement and lack of proper oversight they quickly voted to go into executive session. Matters improved rapidly from there.

    The current policy of asking no questions regarding how patients came to suffer wartime injuries had the tacit approval of the current administrator. In this case the woman in the head office was a former Veteran’s Administration mid-level administrative employee who had been coaxed out of semi-retirement to accept the position with Galax Regional. She had a reputation for being hard nosed when the situation called for it, and compassionate whenever an employee, a patient or a visitor had an unusual problem that the normal channels just couldn’t seem to address. Her hard exterior hid a real heart of gold. Her departed husband had been a veteran of murky campaigns spoken of only in whispers behind closed doors. She had once commented that but for a lack of critical missions from time to time she might never have had the chance to be with her husband long enough to have children. She understood too well the dangers of war, and could not - would not - bring herself to close the doors to those who were trying to preserve the country.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    Over the hill, visible through the gathered gloom of the mostly dark night a set of headlamps cast a glow. Behind them a motor labored, followed by the rumble of a second engine. Ahead of them, hidden under the trees outlining the property was Ken, sweating in the otherwise cooling night air. From behind he heard the muffled shuffle of footsteps. Turning quickly he made the shadowy forms of Karl and Belloc coming from the direction of the house.

    Squatting down next to him and placing a hand on his shoulder in reassurance Belloc addressed him.

    “Sound anything like military vehicles, son?”

    Ken swallowed hard then answered. “Nossir. One’s a light truck, the other I can’t make yet. Heavier but ain’t a diesel. Not moving too fast, guessing under 40 as slow as they are coming over the rise there.” He swallowed again, hoping his assessment was correct.

    As he spoke a rifle was thrust sideways at him. Taking it he realized it was an AK, complete with a 20 round magazine in the well. A chest pouch followed. The gravity of the situation began to weigh on his mind. After the early day’s events he’d believe anything possible, even a shootout here in rural Iowa.

    “Know how to make that work?” Belloc asked.

    “Yessir, selector on the right. No fancy stuff, just aim for the center of mass. Conserve my ammo.”

    The hand on his shoulder patted once and then was gone. Belloc moved away 40 feet to assume a belly down position across the driveway just as the lead vehicle broke over the top of the hill, its lights casting an illuminating swath downwards as it began the slight downward slope. Less than 100 yards separated it from the hastily assembled fire team awaiting them.

    Karl had already scooted across the road and run down the drainage ditch a short ways to put himself in back of the vehicles, or at least to the opposite side, should there be a fight. He had disappeared into the darkness within moments. The only words exchanged between Belloc and himself were for Belloc and his men to draw the attention of the occupants of the vehicles. Belloc knew what he was after and merely grunted a “Gotcha.”

    The lead vehicle slowed further, obviously intending to make the turn into the farm drive. Three pairs of eyes watched from the roadside, 2 more sets from farther back. Andrea had taken cover alongside the corner of the house, her sidearm in a ready position. Having the only long arms available for the moment the men would be the primary defense if needed. Her own carbine was still buried in her Blazer, hidden away under the mound of distraction items and others. Later, she promised herself, later. Foolish to be caught flatfooted like this but too late to do anything about it.

    As the lead vehicle reached the drive it shut down its headlamps, leaving on only parking lights to guide its way. The glare thus eliminated it was revealed to be an older pick-up truck. Over the hill came another vehicle with a similar headlamp pattern, its shape undefined as yet.

    The pick-up continued on up the drive at a crawl, slowly, lazily, as if to indicate that the occupant or occupants were trying to be both cautious and non-threatening in appearance. A good 100 feet down the road the other vehicle followed suit, also dimming its headlamps. In the scant moonlight, all the poorer because the heavenly globe was only beginning its rise in the starlit sky, could be seen the outline of another pick-up with a utility box on the back. It too slowed even further, apparently seeking the beginning of the driveway. Swinging out slightly to gain the right angle it turned in, moving ever more slowly, as if awaiting further direction.

    The pick-up continued towards the house, past the trees that hid it from direct view of the roadway. The driver continued cautiously but with a firm conviction that seemed to indicate he knew exactly what they were about and where they were headed. The other truck followed in its tracks, the dim outlines of two occupants in the front seats barely visible.

    End Chapter XIV Part I
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    Chapter XIV Part II

    Dateline: Kentucky/Tennessee Area

    It was now 0439 and everyone was in position. The military background of many of the force gathered showed in the way they moved with an easy precision. Fire teams had been designated previously, and those otherwise unattached beefed up the squads that were short.

    It was true they were long on mechanics, clerks and truck drivers and short on actual infantry and mechanized cavalry personnel but to a man each knew how to handle a firearm with something at least approaching competency.

    The clock ticked down as they waited, their breath almost visible in the early morning dampness and cool air. Yet sweat stained armpits up and down the line. Some of them would not be coming back from the day’s events. Yet each gathered courage with the conviction that they would rule the day and a national treasure would once more serve their country in time of great need. Though this time it was not the potassium salts that were desired, but the sheltering caverns themselves.

    0444: Would the clock never tick over the hour mark? Last minute adjustments were made to the position of squads well out of site from each other. A solitary vehicle cruised a road within the park. Inside, oblivious to the danger that lay hidden within the forest, rode a pair of not quite swarthy-looking Europeans. This morning they spoke in their native tongue, a language resembling French to the uneducated ear. Their shift on patrol would end in little more than an hour, well before which they would be back at the compound refueling before turning the light truck over to the next shift. It wasn’t quite time to relax yet, but soon. Their lack of acute observation was already beginning to signal their desire for a well-deserved rest.

    0452: Everything was hushed up and down the line. A motley assortment of camouflage uniforms clad the irregular troops. The errant Guard and Reservists were attired in either woodland BDU’s or the newer digital pattern that was recently granted to the Reserve units. Their erstwhile civilian counterparts wore everything from matching patterns to mossy oak, pine needle pattern and even a coyote tan overall in one case.

    0458: Almost time. Safeties were eased off, fingers kept clear of triggers. There were no radio commands to be issued, no verbal yells of charge, no whistles to be blown. Instead three men were designated as “callers” because of their skill in imitating certain birds. All were outdoorsmen of long experience, and one was a locally renowned poacher to boot. Today, however, that was of no concern to anyone. So long as he could imitate the songbird’s call that was the agreed upon signal, and shoulder his rifle with the rest of the semi-irregular force he was just one of the boys.

    The main force, 149 strong, was to advance first. Other units had slightly different timetables as reflected their relative positions around the park. The plan was to ensure that all entry and egress points to the park were effectively sealed off once battle was engaged, but not before. Patrols had been known to sneak out for a bit of illicit fraternizing or black marketeering. On the off chance that one would make such a venture tonight the service road most often observed to be thus used would be the last one closed down. Make sure the park was locked up tight and everyone was accounted for.

    0459: Nate Booker, the senior officer on the field, found himself holding his breath as he checked his watch for the 3rd time in less than a minute. The seconds seem to tick off in slow motion, in parody of what must have been the real-world march of time. He could feel the beginnings of adrenalin beginning to flood his system, just as it had time and again back in “05 when he’d been in Fallujah, Iraq. Time slowed down; one’s field of vision seemed to narrow while hearing and smell seemed to go into hyper mode.

    There! 10 seconds to go and the line would start their advance. Nate’s mouth was suddenly, inexplicably dry.
    Dateline: Goodland, Indiana
    Payton had settled in to a good firing position. He was relaxed, confident in both his skills and his mission.
    It was simple: harassment and interdiction. Inflict as much in the way of confusion and damage upon the enemy forces as he could within a short period of time, and then beat a well-planned hasty retreat. No shame to run away when the goal is to live and fight another day. And other days there would be, Payton had no doubt. Long before the modest force of Royal Guard troops and Loyalists would ever cross the Mighty Mississippi they would find themselves in yet another Goodland-like situation. In normal times a mere few hours from their destination in Iowa the reinforced detachment would find their arrival delayed well in excess of anything foreseeable, as they were discovering already.

    Though his field of vision remained somewhat limited by the intervening buildings and trees Payton could see enough of the main street to effectively have several potential targets to choose from. Being a crafty country boy at heart his intent wasn’t to kill the enemy. No, that would have been too easy. While it would reduce the effective forces available farther down the road there was a better way. The military knew what it was doing when it developed the maxim of intentional wounding. In addition to reducing the target’s effectiveness at fighting it also demoralized his fellow soldiers, and depending on the injuries, meant detailing one of more people to attend to the wounded man.

    Yes, effective aimed fire from a safe distance. Payton and others like him would be at little to no risk, while the enemy forces discovered there were worst things than losing a combatant to a hasty grave.

    The distance was long calculated and recorded for later reference. As any knowledgeable varmint hunter would have Payton had made use of a laser range finder. He had enough experience with it over the years to trust its accuracy to within 10”. Fancier, more accurate models were available of course, as the technology developed over the years. But with the caliber and platform he was using the minute disparity wouldn’t be discernable to any measurement tool available on the battlefield.

    Settled in, well padded from the roughness of the ground and against the recoil of the rifle he twiddled and tweaked the ‘scope controls until the image was sharp and the sighting hairs were laid perfectly upon his first prey.

    The scene in the distance was still one of befuddlement. With the remote firing AK disabled there seemed to be nothing to focus the attention of the attackers. Time to give them something new to think about. The pressure on the trigger ever so slowly increased, all slack having been previously taken up. Finely honed to an extraordinary crispness there was not the slightest hint of drag or catch. Only a steady, slow rearward travel.

    At precisely the correct moment, exactly when he expected it to, the muzzle flashed, the weapon roared, and the target in the distance spun and fell less than a second later.

    Dateline: Somewhere in the Middle East

    “Your Grace, we have received the latest position reports from our convoy. They expect to arrive at their destinations in the infidel lands within 6 hours. There has been no opposition, though our commanders remain ever vigilant for any attempt to stop them. As promised, the infidel collaborators appear to have paved the way for a successful operation.”

    The tall olive-skinned man wearing the gold-corded kafiyyeh replied with only a dismissive wave of his hand. His eyes were distant, lost in thought. Directed as they were at a large operations board adorning the wall before him they were nevertheless focused at some unseen point beyond it, as if by staring hard enough he could discern local details from half a world away.

    Soon, he thought. Soon we will have the men and machines necessary to exploit the gains made to date, to consolidate them and begin the great push westward, across the North American Mississippi River and into the Great Plains areas that lay beyond the natural barrier.

    Within a few hours the first of his men would cross the great river, linking up with the heathen American traitors that had proven so useful if unexpected in their fanatical desire to join the invaders of their country in sweeping the lands free of opposition. If only the fools knew what lay in store for the land when he had completed his quest to make the Great Satan bow to his will. If only they, knew they would be fighting against him rather than for his forces, and fighting much harder as well.

    The ignominy of the defeats dealt his Arab brethren in years past at the hands of Coalition forces lead by the hated Americans fueled the fires of the hatred burning within him. But he and his people – that is to say, those who had gathered themselves around him and his cause – would be the ones to set right to past wrongs. Sadaam was weak, a simple-minded fool. Iran’s Khatami an easily confused product of western education combined with a weak spine when it came to dealing with the ayatollahs.

    Then there was the more recent acquaintance with Kim Il Jung and his rabid rantings about western spies poisoning the crops in his country, or plotting to assassinate him by crashing a satellite into the presidential palace. He wasn’t even a True Believer. His country in economic ruin, his people starving; yet he found the resources needed to channel funds and arms into the secret storehouses set up to house the build up of materials destined for the great invasion. The most highly prized of these “gifts” were yet to be deployed.

    The man referred to as “His Grace” was formally known as the Favored Son of Allah - يفضّل إبنة الإله – and was reputed by his followers to be next only to Mohammed himself in finding favor in the eyes of Allah. Some proclaimed him as the reincarnation of The Prophet, while others scoffed at the idea, claiming it detracted from his role as a New Prophet. His was not the task of rewriting the Quran but instead properly interpreting it in order to reveal the hidden destiny of the True Faithful, as those closest to him were known amongst themselves.

    The varying titles were both intended to confuse enemies and grant respect to the leader. His personal army, numbering in the thousands, was the Royal Guard. In addition there were the Praetorians, numbering in the tens of thousands. Despite their lofty name they were common soldiers, the grunts as it were. They were the least informed of the King’s forces, serving to round out the numbers. They reported to their own officers, who in turn reported and took their orders from Royal Guard officers. Those same officers took their direction from the Kalife in Washington, D.C. He, and he alone, reported to the King, as he was referred to within earshot of infidels. Not even Hillary Boxer had access to the ear of the Favored Son. Indeed, she knew him only as the King. Being a woman as well as an infidel it was not considered fitting that she know more.

    As bad as the new order in Washington was, the real controllers behind the scenes had even worse plans for the US of A. While pretending to back the overthrow of the government their ultimate aim was the complete destruction of the United States. Upon completing that they would set their sights elsewhere, but not before. With the US out of the picture, they assumed, the other countries of the Coalition would offer no more than token resistance before they too were quashed.

    The plan made no allowances for failure. It was not even considered. With the traitors inside the Beltway paving greasing the skids it was assumed that might would combine with heavenly right to create an unstoppable conquest. Only when complete victory was imminently close to hand would the real plan be revealed, much to the horror of those who had made it possible to begin with.

    The convoy spoken of to the King was to be the Phase II force. Lacking the resources to make rapid deployment of large quantities of heavy weapons and troops possible it was instead decided that the lead elements would consist of Royal Guard troops backed by Praetorians, equipped with light armor and a few key aircraft. Thus a ragged fleet of vessels gathered, was loaded and weighed anchor, heading from obscure ports in the Eritrea and Djibouti. Other hosting ports were located in Somalia and the Seychelles. Westward departure ports were located in Cameroon, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. After leaving their respective ports they had meandered off in various directions until certain profile-altering changes could be make to superstructures and deck loads, after which time they began to congregate in the Cape Verde Islands group to the west of Senegal. Since it had worked once while tempt fate? The second convoy followed a similar plan, using vessels of different configurations.

    The Phase II deployment consisted of the remainder of the Royal Guard forces, another 11,000 Praetorians, more light armor and some 34 combat aircraft, the latter each manned by well-trained members of the Royal Guard’s air wing, hand selected for their ability to follow orders without question. They would join the 23,000+ Royal Guard and Praetorians already landed in the United States, supplemented by both domestic military and police forces and unwitting allies in the form of the more militant “rights” groups, along with opportunists of varying stripes who had their own agendas to see played out. Together they constituted an unholy alliance.

    In reality the Royal Guards and friends were strong only in the area around D.C. Much of the territory nominally controlled outside the eastern seaboard was held in name only. Vital industries were taken over by government decree, and occasionally there were enough cooperative local police and other officials to make a change in governance credible. In many cases, however, actual control was tenuous. It extended along the major highways, encompassed airports and train stations and bus depots, guided city hall and county offices alike, and stopped immediately outside those compounds.

    Had not the invading forces the nearly whole-hearted cooperation of the illicit government they would have been quashed within 2 weeks. Even then it would have taken that long solely because the United States historically responds in a ponderous manner, even when it’s own soil is threatened.

    Now that the King’s forces had a strong foothold on American soil, and the issue of how legitimate the national command structure, a la’ the Commander-in-Chief in the person of Hillary Boxer, was still being debated within the areas of the country not under direct control, it was going to take more than mere mobilization of Stateside US forces to throw the bums out. Even if it were possible the broken national command structure had weakened any cohesive response. What good were strategic bombers safely outside the zone of influence when the potential targets were American cities? In more than a few cases, as with NORAD et al, a form of civil disobedience was deemed the best course of action for the time being.

    Call-ups of State Guard units were haphazardly answered, in no small part because they had never been fully re-equipped following the losses of material in the terrorist conflicts. Reserve units fared little better. In any case there was always a small minority of personnel who’d respond to the call simply because it was “official” and offered the promise of a steady paycheck, three hots and a cot. As far back as the 90’s an irregular study undertaken by an active duty officer as part of an academic research project showed that there was always a percentage of American soldiers who would obey orders even when they meant firing on their fellow citizens. In this respect they were no different than those who blindly followed orders in 1940’s Europe, and before that in Czarist Russia. There are bullies lacking ethics to be found in every era.

    All of this had been carefully and craftily factored in when planning for the invasion of the United States. Certain people had been carefully cultivated for several years, feeding into personal vanities and ambitions. Others had been fed and nurtured on the side, treated as separate projects related to the grand scheme but distinctly compartmentalized. In no instance did one group know of the others.

    The Favored Son of Allah alone knew where each tentacle of his reach extended. Not even his most trusted deputies knew all of the pieces of the master plan. To them he appeared to be divinely inspired as only one who had the ear of Allah, and who could speak with his voice, could be.

    He had the ear of a supernatural being all right, and also spoke with his voice. What the Favored Son did not realize was that he had lost control of his own decision-making ability, and thus the ability to influence his own destiny, years before.

    End Chapter XIV Part II
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    Chapter XIV Part III

    Dateline: Andrea

    The years following graduation spent working the Med-Surg floor were years well spent. There Andrea found proof in the wisdom oft-repeated saying about nursing eating its young. Often overworked, expected too often to know everything there was to know about every procedure, medication or disease process many nurses simply did not feel like mentoring the newer members of their occupation. Why should they? They’d learned, hadn’t they? They were still alive and practicing.

    With Andrea it was virtually no different than it had been with thousands of her predecessors: learn as you go and hope you don’t make a fatal or injurious mistake where your patients were concerned. Occasionally though, she’d find an experienced nurse who enjoyed teaching and who could, in fact, teach. They had the too-rare combination of patience, knowledge and wisdom needed to successfully nurture new graduates and those nurses still learning the tricks that make their practice smooth and efficient.

    Becky was one such gifted individual. Herself a nurse with some 10 years of active practice since graduating 17 years previously she’d learned the ropes the hard way herself. Somewhere along the way she’d made herself a promise; that whenever possible she’d take her younger brothers and sisters under her wing and nurture and nourish them properly. She had decided that skills should not be built on the basis of trial and error alone but could best be taught by example, coaching and quiet instruction.

    The Med-Surg floor still worked an 8-hour schedule, depending upon an annual influx of newly licensed nurses to make up the larger numbers needed to staff the floor. By contrast the highly specialized areas such as CCU, ICU and Peds worked 12 hour shifts because they were very dependant upon contract nurses who would choose fewer work days per week in preference to shorter shifts, allowing them to travel to work from outlying areas, work their 3 days and then depart back to their country homes as much as 5 hours distant.

    Becky had recently made the transition from Nights to Evenings after, as she put it, “a well-deserved rest from maniacal specialists who’d only answer the phone during office hours and wanted every procedure and test completed by 3 no matter how routine.” Coming to Evenings she found Andrea as a stressed new grad suffering under the overbearing oversight of a cantankerous old biddy whose greatest contribution to nursing was her loudly offered complaints posited from the safety of her chair at the desk.

    Becky quickly rescued Andrea, having her reassigned to her hall opposite that ostensibly “worked” by Helen, who’s idea of work was to have the younger nurses do all her running for her. Heaven help any who might have to ask advice or assistance, for they’d be greeted by great exasperated sighs and harrumphs at best. If, and only if, all else failed the overused chair would squeak as it was relieved of its aging burden. She would demonstrate a technique only begrudgingly, and roughly at that. Whether it was a difficult IV stick or putting down a nasal gastric tube her manner was always the same.

    Casual witness to one such episode that involved our heroine, Becky pulled her aside at the first opportunity and offered her opening words of wisdom: “Andrea, despite what you were told, the jam it and ram it method of introducing an NG tube is the surest way I know of to place that tube in places God never intended. I haven’t met the patient yet who would benefit from intermittent suction applied to the brain. But I ‘have’ met a few I’d like to test it on,” she’d added with a merry wink.

    Thus her introduction to the concept of well-applied nursing skills combined with heart-felt application of same. For a year and a half Becky patiently taught her new nurse the inside tricks of the trade, always coaching, never belittling or becoming upset. When the day came that they parted company, Becky taking on another new graduate and leaving Andrea to the other hallway (Helen by this time accepted a position as the DON at a care center, doubtless to the dismay of her new staff) Andrea could keep pace with the best of them. Her foundation was firm and she continued to build on it steadily. By now an employee for two years she applied for and was accepted as for transfer to the Step-Down Unit where stable patients were transferred to make room for more serious cases in the CCU and ICU.

    There she learned additional procedures, including external jugular IV sticks and using the veins of the foot and lower leg when no other access was available and a physician or PA wasn’t available to insert a central line. She observed her first cut-downs and filed the information away for future reference. Also learned were quick assessments, the kind that tells you this patient bears closer watching for sudden turns in their condition. Occasionally someone would be booted out of the regular unit in order to create needed bed space, only to crash later and have to wait their turn for another bed to be similarly vacated back downstairs. The warning signs, when they existed, were often subtle. Perhaps the patient offered complaint of feeling a bit odd, or complained of a backache despite proper positioning and frequent turning.

    One habit Andrea had acquired as a student and never managed to lose was to pick the brains of the experienced nurses. Rather than shrink away from asking questions about how to do this or could that drug be mixed with another she found herself gravitating more towards the unusual. In this way she learned of the tricks not taught in school. She learned over time that there were alternative routines that had been abandoned by the mainstream hospitals over the years because someone sitting in an office – themselves long removed from more than casual floor practice – had decided they didn’t meet generally accepted standards regarded as the state of the art as far as nursing in general was concerned.

    She learned that intravenous fluid drips could be eyeballed with significant accuracy without spending 5 minutes counting drips, calculating, adjusting and counting again until perfection was achieved. Some of her coworkers literally could not set an IV rate without a pump. No one had ever taught them how because policy said all IVs will be on a pump. Period.

    When the floor ran out of the proper physical therapy approved moist heat packs patient belonging bags, bath towels and water run out of the tap as hot as it was available filled the gap. When a patient was allergic to most tapes, and there wasn’t any foam tape to be had Foley catheter straps could be sized to fill the requirements. An older nurse showed how to place one leg strap adjacent to another, looping the tubing through the 2nd Velcro slip to prevent the first strap from backing away from the IV catheter hub and running a risk of the line being inadvertently pulled by routine turning and movement. Thus another tidbit tucked away in the back of her mind should it ever be needed again.

    Dateline: Unnamed Location Within the US

    The little party meeting in the parking lot had broken up. A Pelican case had been traded for a brushed aluminum attaché case and the professor was happy with the results in his own personal way. He’d provided a sample of his research results, and in turn been given the means to expand his production capability.

    Outwardly the three strangers were the pictures of calmness itself. Inside each was alive with anticipation. If their confirmation tests proved the validity of the professor’s claims they had only to wait for the product to be grown and harvested in bulk, and delivered. The rest they would see to. There were no middle agents in this deal. There was only the producer and the buyers/end users. Maintaining strict secrecy was of the utmost importance. Few indeed would be the people who would willingly assist in their monstrous plan. But there were always a few. A few would all it would take.

    The operation the separate parties were planning was even more significant than the assassination and subsequent invasion had been. In truth it would have been devastating by itself, but coupled with the present day events if could prove to be, if not thwarted in time, catastrophic for the world as a whole.

    Dateline: Somewhere in Minnesota

    A chance encounter along his journey apprised Fred of the new situation in western Wisconsin. As a result he had to alter his plans a bit. Not that he had any intention of abandoning his movement of materials already there, and of delivering others that weren’t. It was merely that he decided that driving a truck that advertised, amongst other things, meat products containing pork might not be such a good cover after all. Granted, the chances of running into a Royal Guard unit were small if he stuck to the back roads but why take the risk?

    Were the truck to be searched none of the compartments would keep their secrets after the first two cases of product were pulled out. He’d be lucky if he were executed on the spot in that instance. So long as he confined his travels to areas unaffected – relatively speaking – by the current situation he felt safe. His paperwork was in order such that nothing short of a full-scale audit of and on-site visit to the real company would reveal his deception. His license was clean, something he’d always been careful of. He’d even managed to get a ‘replacement’ license issued with an address local to the city of Pella, Iowa so that there would be no discrepancy between his last address of residence and the location of his purported employer.

    Fred had managed to relocate or otherwise acquire nearly 11 tons of materials, all relatively high grade. Aside from specialty ammo hand-loaded for accuracy none the likes of it would ever have graced his tables at the shows. That was for other dealers. But now the kid gloves were off and it was time to set down to the bargaining table.

    “Ahh, dammit any way,” he muttered to himself. He slapped the atlas shut and tossed it to the seat beside him in the cab. There was no getting around it. Granted, the chances of the river bridge already being under Royal Guard surveillance were slim but there was the return trip to consider, never mind his pick up and delivery points within Wisconsin. The problem was that now more than ever the people there were in need of the munitions he was busy collecting and reallocating.

    “Piss and vinegar any way. Dammit. Fort McCoy… who’d a thunk it?”

    He pondered the distance for a few minutes more, fingers slowly drumming the steering wheel as he did. As he did so a plan began to form in his mind. There was more than one way to skin a cat, a saying Blanche had often used around the house. Another cliché popped into his mind as soon as he thought that, and a wry smile creased his sun-wrinkled face. After a moment he started to laugh softly to himself.

    Still chuckling a minute later, he threw the vehicle into gear and set off to find the southbound highway that would lead back to Iowa. His mind was made up now; he knew what to do. Granted there were a few wrinkles to be ironed out but after all he had been through the past dozen or so years what was another minor setback?

    As he drove down a recently widened highway heading towards his home state details began to form in his mind’s eye. Money was no problem though he was anything but wealthy. He had little care these days for himself. He carried insurance, paid as far ahead as allowable, with provision to continue the premium payments for several years without additional income. He’d established a trust long ago to see to just that, with another set aside to safeguard the bulk of the inheritance he planned to leave to his children.

    The house he cared not a wit about. He’d heard of the visit by the law after the Des Moines show. Nary a trace of anything adverse for them to find, much less him. The house was nice enough as such things go but it’d served its purpose. Shortly after the knock on the door the property had been offered for sale by way of the services of a trusted realtor arranged for in advance. Fred had negotiated a flat fee sale and left explicit instructions on how to proceed and whom to sell to. There wouldn’t be any jacking of the price to increase the commission, and there sure as heck wouldn’t be any sales to the professional slumlords that bought properties cheap and rented them out dearly. The proceeds from the sale would be credited to his maintenance trust, with provision to transfer any remaining funds to the kids’ trust should he no longer require same for his own living expenses.

    Fuel might be a concern but he knew whom to contact in that regard. They’d know where to look and how to acquire it when the time came. The vehicle though…. well, that was the rub. It’d have to be specialized, capable of carrying the load, ideally without refueling along the way. No, strike that. It was asking too much. One refueling stop. He was certain of that much for the sake of safety if nothing else.

    There was also the issue of time to consider. The longer it took to make the trip in and out the greater the chance of discovery merely due to being in the wrong place at an inopportune time. Of course there was the matter of loading the cargo but it might be possible to decrease the time exposure there as well.

    “Sigh.” So many factors to consider, and most of them were beyond his ken. Time to get in touch with a certain buddy he knew would have the answers.

    End Chapter 14 Part III
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  10. #50
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    this is a wonderful story. more please.
    blessings to all momof23goats

  11. #51
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    another good chapter, thanks.
    The only rights we have are those we are willing to FIGHT for.




  12. #52
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    Chapter XIV Part IV

    Dateline: Virginia Aid Station

    Randy threw himself down on the makeshift cot that served as his bed. The original one, an air mattress purchased long ago from Cabela’s during his high school camping days, had finally given up the ghost and torn at a weakened seam. No repairing that one, not in today’s topsy-turvy world, he thought glumly.

    Now it was a piece of thick foam rubber atop a pile of heavy cardboard boxes salvaged from supplies. At least he didn’t have to fall all the way to the floor. And there was still his old, delofted Slumberjack bag for covering. It’d never serve on a –20 night again, was barely adequate for 35 above nowadays, but he’d never been able to toss it out in favor of a new one.

    There was light to read by, thank goodness. One of the small gang of workers attached to the aid station had rigged an AC feed off of the line serving the general ward not far away. This allowed Randy and his tent mates the luxury of a single bulb at night. And nighttime was the only time Randy could put in some serious studying of the manuals that had been scrounged. Cecil’s Essentials of Medicine – 8th Edition, had become a trusted friend. Not that he wasn’t familiar with the contents but with his formal education cut off for the time being he’d made a point of memorizing every tidbit he could.

    Then there was Essentials of General Surgery – 3rd Edition. Another well-worn soft cover that had been read from end to end twice since the war had started. That one had been ‘loaned’ to him by one of the docs.

    He’d heard of a book on survival medicine that was touted as the cat’s pajamas by one of the patients who’d come through last week. Unfortunately, when he’d inquired about the possibility of getting hold of a copy the man had to admit that he’d never bought a paper edition and had only downloaded the free electronic version several years before. It existed now solely on his computer at a home inside occupied territory.

    “It’s full of all kinds of makeshift ideas though. Lots of things that can work when you haven’t got access to a real hospital.” Or so the man had said. Randy, for his part, had never known that such a work existed.

    Delving deeper into his chosen study chapter for tonight he didn’t notice the entrance to the tent that served as home for himself and 3 others until he heard the new comer speak to him.

    “Tough day, Randy. Be glad when there’s a lull in these firefights. We’re about due for a break.”

    Randy looked up from his reading to acknowledge the speaker, Dave. A recent addition to the group, Dave was a PA-C who’d been employed by an orthopedic group to manage surgery follow-ups at a hospital in the D.C. area. Disgusted with what he’d witnessed there, with anyone connected to the government in any way receiving top priority for everything from beds to band-aids he’d tossed in the towel, claiming he had an offer from another group in up-state New York. He’d given them 2 weeks notice and had been careful to not burn too many bridges behind him when he left. Then, as soon as he was officially off the payroll he’d headed out to find a slot within the Rebel medical system.

    “Yeah, I hear you. Gets like this sometimes. Nothing too major but a steady flow of wounded none the less.”

    “Is it always like this? I mean, just one after another after another? There wasn’t even a major push from either side, and we saw, what, 19 surgical cases today? Man, I’m bushed!” Dave tore off his sweat-stained scrub top and tossed it on the fabric floor of the tent. His bed consisted of a closed-cell foam sleeping pad on top of a double layer of shag rug remnants that offered some semblance of cushion. A couple of spare hospital blankets served as coverings. Not that he’d complain. The patients got first dibs on anything that came through that was more than barely serviceable, as was only befitting.

    “Nope. Some days we don’t see a darned thing. Might go on for two-three days. No bitching on my part there. We need the rest just as badly as the guys doing the fighting.” Randy shrugged as if to say ‘What can you do about it.’

    After a pause he added as an afterthought: “Was one period for 5 days when we didn’t have any new cases. Not that that was bad from the aspect of recovering as many of the bed cases as possible. Managed to clear as many of the lower acuity patients as possible out of the ward. Some were discharged; others found beds in hospitals still accepting non-government wounded. I think we were stuck with 17 only beds filled by the time the new cases started rolling in.”

    Dave studied the fabric flooring at his feet for a moment before asking: “What about the 4 we shipped out yesterday? They end up anywhere close by? I mean, not that they were bad but traveling any distance had to be rough for any of them.”

    “Not sure. Heard there was a new facility that accepted only Rebel patients. Other than that, don’t know much about it.”

    “Well, if the rumors I’m hearing have any ring of truth to them I hope the facility is reasonably close. Sounds like we may need to clear beds in order to accept new recoveries. Damn hospitals anyhow. Care more about whose paying the bill and how their accepting a patient will affect future reimbursements than they are with actually fulfilling their mission of providing care to those who need it.”

    Randy nodded in agreement. The sentiment was one expressed virtually every day by at least one of the meager staff. Nothing new there. But without the means to cover the expenses of a well-rounded staff they’d have to carry on as best they could. No CAT scan, only basic lab services, and a blood bank of sorts that was lucky if it held enough for one day’s aggressive caseload, and always the shortage of medications, especially analgesics stronger than Ibuprofen.

    “You know,” he said, as much to himself as actually addressing Dave, “the only difference between us now and the MASH units during the Korean War is they had helicopters. We can’t even use marked ambulances because they are too easy to follow.”

    Dave snorted in derision. “Heck with that rot, they at least had enough tentage to go around and more nurses to boot. There isn’t enough room to erect a still in here even if we wanted to. And the only shower we have relies on bushes for a privacy screen and takes several hours of sunlight to reach lukewarm temps. Man, there’s progress for you.”

    Randy chuckled at Dave’s rueful observations. After a moment Dave, too, found himself laughing half-heartedly. It wasn’t as if they’d been drafted like the luckless Hawkeye and Trapper John of the famed TV show. They were here of their own volition.

    Elsewhere in the small compound the sounds of various activities penetrated the nylon walls of their tent. There was the usual low din of chatter coming from the general ward as the resident patients sought to relieve themselves of the boredom that came with enforced convalescence. Usually there was a card game or two going on, occasionally a board game set up in a far corner.

    The aid station had taken on a rhythm all its own the past few weeks. Originally established close to the battle lines it had twice relocated to more secure areas. There were no Geneva Accords being observed in this war. Those were for nations who had neutral countries through which to negotiate humanitarian agreements related to the handling of refugees, wounded and prisoners. There were no Red Cross panels on the roofs of the tents, no armbands for the field medics, nor markings on the helmets. While the Loyalist troops might heed them the Royal Guard and friends regarded them as nothing more than decorations. Anyone on the side of battle other than their own was fair game, combatant and civilian alike if it came down to it.

    Care was taken as much as possible to hide the actual location of the aid station. Not everyone championed the so-called Rebel forces. There were people who argued in favor of whomever was occupying the seats of power as ardently as any Democrat or Republican Party member ever had. Just as often there were those whom it wouldn’t be fair to even designate as fence straddlers – they wished for nothing more than to be left alone to carry on with their daily lives far removed from any question of right or wrong. To them the comings and goings of the two forces were distractions at best. Only when conflict threatened them did they voice anger at whomever blocked the road with their convoys and battle lines. Otherwise they merely shrugged and attempted to carry on with their vacuous existence.

    The existence of the aid station itself was widely known by way of rumor as well as inference. Not only the Virginia Aid Station but also others scattered throughout the eastern states. In fact, according to the rumors there was a wide network of such stations set up, as many as 5 per state. The sad reality was that there were barely a dozen all told, scattered as far away as Iowa. The one in Virginia was merely the first to be formally established. The unit that had formerly been situated in the semi-remote suburbs of Maryland had been wiped out barely a week after it came into existence, the victim of an informant seeking reward for their loyalty to the new government. Another was forming in the Kentucky/Tennessee area, and others had been established in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, New York state, and even Virginia, though in the latter case it was barely able to handle a dozen cases at a time owing to on-going supply problems. The only benefit of the rumors was to keep those looking for the supposed stations busy looking for non-existent locations away from the few camps actually operating.

    End Chapter XIV Part IV
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  13. #53
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    Chapter XIV Part V

    Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

    “Alright. All right now! Please, let’s just settle down and wait our turn so we can all have a chance to speak in turn.”

    The speaker was Lydia Armstrong, who was heading the impromptu meeting of the group. Everyone, herself no less than the others, had been busy the past few hours. In the rush to acquire more supplies to replace those thought lost by mischance, but now regarded as likely to reach the aid station despite their earlier fears, many of the small assemblage, Lydia included, had been hard pressed to make the hastily called group meeting.

    Emotions were strong and tempers were beginning to flare. Norma had started going on the moment she hit the door, in her you-should-know manner. Charlotte, whom everyone normally looked to as the group’s natural leader, was of course absent tonight. When last heard from she and Raymond had made contact with the relief tractor driver and were presumably on their way towards St. Olaf once again. Of the original truck driver, Leadfoot, and his convoy mate and erstwhile rescuer, Rick, there was at last report no word of their arrival at Bambi, nor any official traffic which might indicate their being halted en route.

    “That’s better. I hesitate to think of what Charlotte would think if she could see us now.” There was a flush to her face as she said this, indicative of the increasing anger she was feeling as the normally close-knit and sociable group gave rise to their fears of failure so early in the game.

    Lydia possessed one of those rare personalities seldom evident to those around her. Well regarded within the community as the kind of mom every kid wanted, or the church group or PTA member everyone wanted to have on their fundraising committee, she was also possessive of a mind better suited to a military tactician and a temperament equal that of any Marine platoon leader. Seen as a soft, friendly woman when confronted with a situation as serious as that which now faced the group she became all business and a force to be reckoned with.

    “I know we are all tired and worn out. That’s to be expected, considering how much work we’ve been doing for the past 3 days now. We’ve moved I don’t know how many tons of material, not just once but time and again. From storage, from the grocery and hardware and farm stores to our cars and trucks, and then onto a larger truck, and that just today…. never mind the past two days.”

    “But this bickering amongst ourselves has got to stop! Now, we’ll all be quiet while we take reports, and then, and ONLY then, will we discuss the matter. Carl, you start first and the rest of us will listen…. quietly.” Her meaningful look cast in the direction of Norma was not lost on either the target or the others present.

    “Ahummm… Well, I can tell you we sent 48 cans of gas on the relief truck. At 5 gallons each that’d be, ummm… 240 gallons. Less than the original shipment but all we had cans for. There’s another 215 gallons in the truck tanks that can be siphoned off once we have someplace to put it. Any way that ought to keep things running for a time.”

    “Now diesel, there we ran up a might short. We only had containers for 36 gallons. Won’t keep that generator – assuming it makes it okay,” at which Lydia’s eyebrows shot up in warning, “ummm, I mean that won’t keep the generator running for more than a couple days depending on the load. With us running hard up to mid-July and plans to get some AC units running off the genset, well, you can see what I’m getting at there. We’ve got bulk storage, just not a way to move the fuel once we have it, less’n we send a fleet of pickups with tractor tanks in the rear bed. Burn damn near as much fuel as we’d deliver a going that route.”

    Lydia didn’t allow time for anyone to dwell upon Carl’s flirtation with negativity.

    “Mary Jane, what can you report?”

    Mary Jane Whittle was the only person present whose spouse wasn’t part of the group. They had lead relatively separate lives for the 32 years of their marriage, her husband puttering in his shop when not engrossed in TV sports while his long-suffering wife took care of everything that wasn’t related to her husband’s employment with the Postal Service, his project cars or ESPN. Harold had had his head stuck in the sand for as long as anyone could say they’d known him. Meanwhile his wife raised the kids, managed the household and patiently waited for the day her husband would tear himself away from his personal interests long enough to even acknowledge that he had a family.

    “I’d like to be able to report that we were able to replace the food that was on the first truck, but that didn’t happen. Not that we didn’t do well on short notice but there was only such room on the other truck. With the fuel and other supplies there wasn’t anywhere near the room we needed. But, on a more positive note,” she offered with a quick attempt at a reassuring smile, “there’s a good week’s worth of groceries on that truck. I’m sure our young lady will be able to find more up there to stretch things a few more days. There’s more we can do, just not all at once like we did today.”

    Lydia looked expectant, obviously willing Mary Jane to elaborate on her ending thought. After a moment she offered a verbal prompt indicative of her growing impatience, in itself a sure sign of her own weariness.

    “And…..?”

    “Well, you see it’s like this…. Everyone did a fantastic job, and I really mean that, too, with our little whirlwind shopping sprees today. But it’s like picking Harold’s wallet for the kids’ school clothes and such; if you do a little bit at a time he’ll never notice. But if you grab half the bills in his roll he’ll pick up on it right away and raise some cane. Lydia, how many church suppers can you buy for in one week before somebody notices that you’ve changed your habits? Do you see what I am getting at?”

    Lydia nodded in understanding, though for the benefit of the others watching the exchange. She already knew where this was going and had determined previously that it was precisely this issue that needed to be addressed tonight, before the group gave away the very secret of its existence by failing to abide by the principles of camouflage in plain site that had served it so well for over a decade.

    “I know, Mary Jane. If we suddenly change our established habits a pattern emerges that even the stupidest checkout can see after a while. And if they can see it you can bet others can too. People we may particularly NOT want to take notice.”

    “Yes, thank you, Lydia.’

    “To get back to what I was saying, we took a chance today. I mean, it could have been worse; we could have sent several people to the same stores and had them load up like the world was coming to an end. In the end, though, we didn’t hit the same store twice. That, I think, is very much in our favor.’

    “Now, what I would like to suggest is that we organize a buying expedition to Des Moines. I think that if we were to hit Sam’s Club, Costco, some of the larger groceries like Dahl’s in Urbandale and on the east side, Hy-Vee in Pleasant Hill, on Army Post Road, on NW 86th Street, and MLK Ave – the last one would be especially good to buy a quantity of ethnic foods at – as well as the day old bread stores across town, that we could equal or possibly even surpass what we had on the primary truck today. And without appearing to be anywhere local to Ottumwa.”

    “That’s a very good thought, Mary Jane. We may return to discuss it at length later. Now, Charlie, you seem to be chomping at the bit. Why don’t we get your report next.”

    Charlie had been working his jaw like his mouth was full with a wad of chew resisting his best efforts, save that Charlie had given up chewing tobacco over 20 years ago. He ground his jaw once more, made a face and then took a deep breath.

    “Uh-hemm. Yeah, wal I got a few things to say first and then I’ll get into the meat uh the matter. It just irks me to no end that a lot o’ thuh stuff on thet truck was darn near irreplaceable. Damn, it irks me! I don’t know WHY in hades we put all our eggs in one basket as it were. Just bad tactics is what it were.”

    Lydia kept her own thoughts to herself about the matter. She was responsible for gathering foodstuffs and non-hardware items herself, but the same thought had occurred to her. Time to address that later with the parties involved in the decision, but not now.

    “Please continue, Charlie.”

    “Uh-hemm” was his initial response, sounding for all the world like he was trying to clear his throat of phlegm from the imaginary wad of chaw.

    Using a finger thrust out in front of him to punctuate his speech he began once again.

    “I ain’t fer saying we ain’t got other resources, no sir. Not the point, no. Putting all our eggs in one basket is. We gotta be planning better and getting sneakier. And that’s my say on THAT matter.”

    He paused long enough to take a deep breath, and then continued in another vein.

    “All this planning and being careful of what others see and know all these years hain’t been for naught. I made a couple calls today after I got my two loads of fuel for the pot. Did my part, then I did my part.”

    “And the gist of these calls, if you don’t mind my asking?” Lydia replied.

    “See, I had this guy over ta Moravia who’s a bin after me for nigh on two years now to take a whole load of goods off his hands. Kind of a collector like me ya might say, just dif’rent tastes. Ya’ll know I got a barn full of gas pumps and old signs and metal tractor wheels and such, never mind the other stuff I’ve bin a gathering and hiding in plan site, so’s to speak.’

    “Any way, he has this hankering to spend his last years down south where it’s warmer, he says. Knows I collect stuff and is a regular at the estate auctions and such, and thinks I might be interested in what he has. Truth is, I – we – am. See, he collects some old timey stuff, including militaria. Has himself a full-scale platoon-size WWII encampment. Used to do that re-enacting stuff back in the 90’s and a bit later. Weren’t never in the military himself but he liked playing soldier.”

    “This is really starting to get interesting,” Gwen interjected.

    “Ha! You don’t know the half of it. Now let me finish without no more interrup’shuns.”

    “Mind you I’ve had my eyes on his collection before he even offered to sell it to me. Long before. You get to know the familiar faces at the auctions and such, and there he’d be – pockets full of cash and a nice truck just waiting to be filled. He’s got leather harness and tack galore, and old Amish buggy for why I dunno when there’s perfectly good ones could be had for near the same money. But he says he figured to make a replica of a buckboard out of it. Any ways - that’s his other passion ya see, the Old West – anyways, he’s got a lot of stuff that can be useful to us and others like us, as well as enough other junk a whole world away from what we’s a doing that I’m a thinkin’ I can buy his lot and get away with ‘disappearing” the stuff we want while making it look real good like it was the OTHER stuff I was setting my eye on all along.”

    Carl interrupted this time in spite of Charlie’s admonition against such. “Charlie, this the guy you was telling me about last year?”

    Charlie nodded sagely. “Yep, one an’ thuh same.”

    “I’ll be darned any way. How the heck you gonna be able to afford all that. If I remember right his collection is bigger than yours.”

    “’Member what I said about him wantin’ to head south to retire?” Heads nodded all around. “Well, he has one liddle problem….. He ain’t got nowheres to live once he gets down there!” Charlie slapped his left knee with glee, chortling as he did so. The look of puzzlement on the faces of the others said that the point was lost on them.

    “Oh, oh ho, oh ho… ha, hah….” Charlie was laughing at his own joke so hard he was starting to choke. For a moment more than one person thought he might have a stroke or worse right there in front of them. At last he slowed down and then wiped his tearing eyes with an old blue bandana.

    “Oh, I tell ya, there’s more’n a bit of the old trader left in me there is. Yes sir, more’n a bit.”

    The small assembly waited impatiently for Charlie to continue with his report *** story. All traces of his earlier anger were now gone, his wrinkled old eyes dancing merrily.

    “Oh, I know, I know, what’s all this got to do with everything. I’ll tell ya: I dun told ya I made a coupla calls today. The other was to a guy whuts been after me for years now to sell ‘im that ’65 Mustang I had stored behind the barn for purt near 20 years now. Never get around to fixing it up again so figure I may as well get some real use out of it. Interior’s darn near cherry and the exterior just needs some touching up here and there. Lacking an engine why I never drive it – old one’s shot as can be; tossed a rod way back when. That’s how I got it from the guy before me.”

    As he said this a look that could best be described as wistful came over the old veteran. “Yeah, had me a new “65 once on a time. After I did the GI Bill and got my degree and worked a few years I had enough to buy me one right out of the showroom. Always figured I’d relive them days when I came across this one, but that ain’t gonna happen, not now.”

    Lydia, while nearly enthralled with yet another of Charlie’s famous horse trades, realized that time was being taken up with it and in the process was detracting from their purpose in gathering tonight.

    “Charlie, as much as I am enjoying the suspense please, in the interest of time, get to the point.”

    The wistful look quickly turned in a dagger that was just as quickly was followed by a snort. “Yeah, okay. Well, this guy wanted something of mine and had something I needed. Mr. Cowboy Wannbe has just about everything he needs savin’ a place to live once he gets there. So I offer this other guy the “Stang in return for a “96 Prowler 5th-wheel he’s had sitting around and don’t use no more. Times being as they is he’s a mite shy on cash so we does us a trade, title for title. Then I turns right around and offers same to our boy what wants to go south. That and an old 5th wheel hitch I got collecting dust, fit that truck a his just fine. It’s all a done deal. We get tentage, cots, camp gear, tools, rolls of wire, parts for vehicles that ain’t seen the highway in 30 years…. lot more, stuff we can use. Bottle cappers, canning jars, axes and saws and what, some car repair tools for bodywork and engine stuff. Parts, too.”

    Charlie paused for another moment to catch his breath after his tale, and then continued in a more somber tone of voice. “He puts his place up for sale, hitches up his new home and heads to an RV park in Texas with no worries. We just need a few days and a few sets of hands younger’n mine to rearrange things. S’far as anybody’s concerned it’s just two old codgers making a swap. Gonna make a big deal out of the western stuff, put up some of the GI gear for looks and start flooding eBay and Auctions dot com with the stuff. All nice and out front like. Gits me a nice collection of aw-then-teek western spurs, all mounted nice and all, for my den, too.”

    This last tidbit caused Charlie to break out in a face-splitting grin. Charlie’s real passion was displaying well-rounded collections of small items that were easily transported, over the years winning multiple blue ribbons at county and state fairs for his displays.

    The grin proved to be infectious, and a result the group’s mood lightened a bit. The news would have been welcome at any time, but was all the more so in light of the day’s events.

    Gwen was chosen to report next. Gwen was a general member with no particular skills but equipped with a very pleasant, homey personality. She would be the last person anyone would ever suspect of being involved with an underground group as represented by the people gathered. Her children were all grown and on their own, and her husband an over-the-road hi-tech equipment salesman who himself contributed by way of making contacts and moving small units of material. He had been the one who had several years before found the computer geek who’d done the one-time cipher pad work for the group.

    “I made my grocery runs today and then called my husband. He’s a little mystified of course. But I didn’t want to say anything over the phone. You know how it is, especially now. He did manage to let me know that he happened to hear of a pending action in Kentucky but didn’t have any details. He’ll let me know when he can, though.”

    “Do you see any chance of the activities in Kentucky affecting us?” Lydia asked.

    “No. No, I don’t. Just thought I’d mention it in passing. On the other hand I did catch a blurb on the radio today about something happening down by Middleton at the Ammo Plant. I stayed on that station but didn’t hear anything else so there’s not much more I can tell you. Just that they said the County Sheriff was quoted as saying he was tired of Des Moines demanding he provide security for the river bridges and railroad yards, and then stop something going on over at the Plant when his people are already over-extended. I’m sorry, I wasn’t really listening, just caught it in passing.”

    Arlen Middleton, one of the founding members of the group in spite of his being barely 50 years of age, and thus the youngest of the original members, perked up at this news tidbit.

    “I know something about the situation down there. I was going to tell you about it when it got around to being my turn.”

    “Just a minute, Arlen. Anything else to report, Gwen?”

    “No, that’s all I have for today. I just did my thing like always. Nothing heroic about it.”

    Lydia looked thoughtful at that last. “I think…. I think whether or not anything we do as individuals or as a group is seen as heroic in any way will be for those who follow us to decide. For now, all we can do is what we have been. But enough of that line of thought. Arlen, you were saying?”

    “Wellll, I was down to the diner the yesterday for coffee with the boys. One of them had just come back from Burlington the night before and was all full of chatter about events over to the Ammunition Plant. Seems someone got word there’s a full company of Loyalist forces heading that way with an eye to secure things there for the government. In return, there’s a fair size force of our people setting up a reception committee to try and make sure they don’t succeed. And somewhere in the middle are the local Sheriff and his people, trying to keep from getting their bums shot off when push comes to shove, and Governor Balsack sitting up there in his brick palace trying to get the Sheriff and others to ensure the federal forces come out on top of this shindig.”

    “A full company! That’s 160 or more men!” Charlie blurted out. “My God, that’s a slaughter waiting to happen no matter what. And I don’t mean just combatants. Those damn ragheads and their ilk don’t care a lick for who gets in the way!”

    Charlie’s face was florid with anger, giving evidence to his rising passion over the news just imparted.

    Lydia hastened to intervene before the meeting got entirely out of hand.

    “Charlie, we understand your anger. We – all of us – know all too well what has been happening in the East. For that matter it’s been happening right here in Ottumwa, though it seems to have passed for now, thank God. That’s why we are here after all, because we have decided to take a stand against this abomination directed against our country. But we have to be objective. So let’s begin by analyzing what we know. Then we will decide what we can do about it.”

    Charlie reigned in his anger, barely. He merely nodded, giving Lydia back the floor. Charlie was known for occasional outbursts but by the same token was just as quick to listen to another view when it was offered in reasonable fashion.

    The meeting went in for another hour and a half before someone pointed out that the time of day was no longer in their favor, and a nosey neighbor wondering why the “social group” was meeting later than normal might bring unwelcome attention. Accordingly it was decided to break up in the practiced fashion, with people leaving over a period of 20 minutes, carrying with them the books and Tupperware containers they habitually carried with them as camouflage. Had anyone outside the group ever been able to keep track they might have wondered why Al Gore’s dated environmental work was a regular item of apparent study, or why Mary Jane always, without fail, brought a package of Oreo or Nutterbutter cookies in her Tupperware container. Truthfully it had more to do with her kids’ tastes that anyone within the group, as there were very seldom many consumed. For those who had grandchildren, though, the cookie jars were often restocked with those particular brands. The whole point of the cookies, as with Al Gore’s book, was that they were entirely innocent items that wouldn’t rate a second glance. One wouldn’t expect a member of a “radical” group to bring cookies to a covert meeting, but they wouldn’t think twice about someone bringing treats to share with friends over coffee and conversation.

    The strength of this particular group was in the fact that on the surface they had every appearance of being ordinary people. All were law-abiding citizens who paid their bills, held steady jobs if they weren’t retired, and who travels were perfectly reasonable. None had any criminal record and they were careful to choose to associate with other groups whose standards were likewise high. Their cutout and contact arrangements had been years in the making, and were thus well established long before there might be any reason to suspect that such individuals even existed, much less should be looked for.

    End Chapter XIV Part V
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  14. #54
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    Chapter XIV Part VI

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    Hands tightened around pistol grip handles as the lead vehicle ever so slowly ground its way up the drive towards the farmhouse, and consequently towards Andrea’s ready position. There was no backlight to illuminate the driver inside, no way to tell if there was even more than one person.

    The second vehicle crawled forward even more hesitantly, following the parking lights of the one in front. Unseen by anyone inside it a dark figure slowly arose from the ditch on the far side of the road and ran forward in a practiced combat crouch, moving to another position of concealment closer to the scene of any action that might take place should the trucks’ occupants prove to be unfriendly.

    The older pickup in front stopped, idled for a moment, and then went silent. In an apparent gesture of peaceful intent the driver side door opened, slowly. A lone figure stepped out and closed the door quietly, then stood beside the door, apparently waiting for the other truck to catch up. The parking lights remained on so that there was light enough to see that the lone figure stood there with arms hung to the side in a non-threatening manner. In the near darkness it was impossible to tell who it was, or even whether the figure was definitely male or female.

    The second truck, looming larger owing to the utility box in the rear crawled forward at a snail’s pace, seemingly wary. It’s parking lights provided modest illumination, enough to highlight the solitary figure standing beside the first truck.. Pulling to within 20 feet of the rear of the first truck it halted, then it, too, turned off its engine. The ensueing silence was almost deafening, seemingly highlighted by the tension in the air. There was enough light thrown back by the front vehicle’s tailights to reveal two occupants in the cab.

    Andrea remained hidden in the shadows, waiting for someone – anyone – to make the next move. Through the modest glare of the parking lights she could discern the outline of two dark figures moving up to take covering positions to the rear of the vehicles, one to either side, far enough back that they were not directly illuminated by the red light issuing from the rear fenders.

    The deafening stillness of the night was broken by a vaguely familiar male voice:
    “Mrs. Whitewater? You’ll remember me I s’spect. I showed you thuh place early this month, set you on to them Amish folk.” A moment’s pause, then “It’s Frederick, ma’am. I done brought you some new customers for th’ hospital.”

    Mr. Mercer, of course! That’s why the truck looked familiar, Andrea thought. A further recollection brought back the memory of the peculiar squeek to the driver side door she’d just heard when it opened, a mild scraping, as if the door was slightly askew on its hinges.

    Andrea was suddenly aware that her palms were sweaty on the grip of her pistol. The somewhat familiar voice eased her tension and she exhaled the breath she hadn’t until now realized she was holding.

    Realizing the next move had to be up to her she took a deep, cleansing breath, lowered her sidearm from the ready position, and took a step to the side, revealing herself in the starry light.

    “Mr. Mercer….Frederick. This is quite an unexpected visit, and your announcement has me rather startled I have to admit. Please explain yourself, and the presense of….ummm, your ‘customers’ as you put it.”

    The figure that has identified itself as Frederick Mercer shrugged in apparent frustration, then resignation. “Sorry to be a startlin’ you, ma’am. I ‘spect you didn’t know I wuz in the know from the beginnin’. Arlen wuz too. This here whole arrangement was made at the askin’ of some friends of ours – yours and those a us up here that is - from down south a ways. I thought you’d be expectin’ us all before now.”

    Andrea’s confusion returned. Did he mean to imply that the Ottumwa group knew these people directly? Frederick’s appearance without notice seemed out of character for what she’d been lead to expect. was there a breakdown in communication somewhere, or was all of this a set-up, her cover and that of the aid station already compromised?

    A clearly masculine voice came at them from the treeline between the house and the roadway. “Fred, did you just happen to forget to tell a few people just what the heck you were up to, like the fact that I was on my way down here earlier, and now, apparently, about these other people you have here? Damn simple-minded clodhopper anyhow.”

    “This “clodhopper” as you so eloquently put it, is observant enough to have noticed the gleam of that earpeice you’re sporting on the left side, you borish cretin. Why did you not turn your head the other direction as I rolled by so that the reflection wouldn’t give you away? I taught you better than that, tenderfoot.”

    “Wha…! Why you old coot anyhow. I ought to come over there and teach you something about concealment.” The mock anger in Karl’s voice was obvious to anyone listening.

    “Gentlemen! Before this mutual admiration society kicks off the evening’s festivities I believe I am due the courtesy of an explanation. Since your hands are empty, Frederick, and mine is not, let’s start with you. What happened to the back-hollow accent, for starters?” Andrea asked.

    The first response she received came not from Frederick but from Karl, who was now moving towards the vehicles. Guffaws and snorts issued from his advancing form. “Back-hollow? Back-hollow! You old coot any way. You’re still hiding behind that clodhopper-from-the-hills accent, aren’t you?”

    “As I recall, old top, it was I who had at one time attempted to train you in the art of concealment in plain sight, though why I ever endeavored to undertake a task so obviously destined to failure is beyond me.”

    At this last exchange Andrea’s eyes opened wide in amazement. The simple country fare persona of the Frederick Mercer she’d briefly had the acquaintance of had, which had just greeted her in the opening exchange, seemed to have evaporated into the night, replaced with the verbal mannerisms and speech of an educated man.

    “I….I’m confused. Will someone please tell me just what is going on, and who is who, and what?”

    More and louder guffaws came from Karl as he drew alongside Frederick. His rifle hung now at his side, all pretense at the business-like nature he had previously exhibited now dropped in his amusement.

    “Fred, Fred, Fred. I see you have been up to your old tricks again.” Turning to face Andrea he addressed her. “This ‘bumpkin’ wrote his doctoral degree on Colonial mercantile practices in 1760’s New England. He’s as cultured as he pretends hard not to be. He graduated *** laude from Brown University.”

    Frederick, or Fred as Karl referred to him, merely sighed in response. “Madam, it is as this Neanderthal says, I freely admit. Though I pray heartily that this conversation will not be repeated outside this isolated glade. I shall endeavor to explain in due time. My sincere apologies meantime. First, however, there is the matter of the gentlemen in the vehicle accompanying me, and their associates idling farther down the road. I am given to understand that they have brought to you disadvantaged refugees from the eastern conflicts.”

    Andrea’s confusion was now at a peak, all thought of her nervous fears now passed with the astonishing news just presented to her.

    “Do you mean to tell me that… that…” She shook her head as she tried to make sense of what she had just been told.

    “ ‘Scuse me” a voice called out from the cab of the 2nd truck, “do ya’ll think ya could be a help to us?”

    Karl was the first to react. “Well, Fred, don’t stand there like a frosh called to present their first paper before the auditorium. Introduce us to your friends and let’s get this show on the road before the sun comes up.”

    “Ah yes, quite so.” Then turning towards the vehicle parked behind him he called back. “Gentlemen, the party whom you have traveled so far to meet requests an audience with you. If you would be so kind as not to keep the lady waiting further.”

    Regaining some of her recently lost composure Andrea added her own emphasis to Frederick’s statement, calling out “Yes, please don’t keep me standing here in suspense.”

    With that the doors to the government *** patriot pick-up opened each side in turn and the occupants stepped out slowly, hands in plain view. The driver quickly stepped towards Andrea, right hand outstretched in greeting.

    Andrea fumbled with her pistol for a moment, then decided she could safely holster it again, flanked in reverse by Karl, and now Belloc, who had also abandoned his position of concealment. Ken remained dutifully on observation near the road, AK in hand, though with an ear straining to catch what he could of the conversation behind him.

    Her hands now free she took the outstretched hand in a surprisingly firm handshake. As he took it the driver addressed her.

    “You must be the lady we came to see. I’m Josh, and this here,” he waved his free hand to the side to indicate his partner, “is Steve. We’re the advance scouts for the main unit. Run interference if you will.”

    “I’m Irene. Pleased to meet you.” Andrea waited expectantly for the man to continue.

    “I guess we sort of took you by surprise, showing up like this.” Josh looked apologetic as he said this.

    “Yee-esssss, you could say that. But it’s been a day of surprises, so tell me about the latest because I have another patient I need to be checking on.”

    “Well, uh, we’ve got 4 patients back down the road. Come from a forward aid station in Virginia. Way I understand they all need some recovery time and we need the beds back East. This was supposed to be a safe area we were told we could start moving patients to.” Josh looked at Andrea with something akin to expectation in his face, as if pleading with her to confirm that what he said was right.

    At this last Frederick jumped in to the conversation. “I’m afraid the scheduling mix-up is entirely my fault. I’ve been in contact with trusted confederates out east, spreading the word. I was, however, under the impression that any transfers were to be scheduled in advance for arrival next week. Nevertheless the burden of responsibility is mine to bear. I do apologize, madam.”

    Andrea waved dismissively. “Don’t worry about it, COBRA rules don’t apply here and no one foresaw the delays we’ve encountered. Right now I just need to know what sort of patients I’m getting so I can figure out how best to settle and feed them for starters.”

    “Right,” Josh said. “Well, I guess since we’ve found your place we’d best go get the others and bring them in. It’s been a long trip, especially since we’ve sorted of winged it this go. Just take a few minutes to collect the other vehicle.”

    With a nod to Steve he remounted his seat in the cab, while Steve reassumed his place on the opposite side. The engine turned over quickly and the truck made a wide circle as it turned around and headed out the drive and back down the road to the south.

    Andrea turned to address Karl and Frederick. “I need to check on my patient and let the girls know we have more company coming. When they get back please bring them to the front and we’ll sort the patients out from there.” Then addressing Belloc she asked, “Would you mind lending me a hand inside? I’m going to need to move your man more to the side.”

    Belloc just said “Sure, let’s go.” With that the two started back into the house, leaving Fred and Karl standing outside to wait.

    Frederick assumed his former slouch, looking once again like the local bumpkin he portrayed in his day-to-day life. “Ya know, I’m a thinkin’ she’s a mite upset. Not so’s I blame her none.”

    Karl glanced over at his friend with chin down, looking for all the world as though he was peering at him over the top of an imaginary set of glasses. “Brother, for all your education you are still an ignoramus.” Frederick just shrugged in an off-hand manner.

    End Chapter XIV Part VI
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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  15. #55
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    Chapter XIV Part VII

    Dateline: Near St. Olaf, Iowa

    “Just a few more miles, buddy. Almost there now. We’ll get you set to rights in no time.” Rick hoped his words were more reassuring than he felt inside. Leadfoot’s occasional moans had only grown in frequency and intensity since their unplanned delay with the tire business.

    Leadfoot’s reply was a yet another groan, followed by an exclamation. “God, I sure hope so. Not sure how much more I kin take of this.” Another pained grunt followed.

    As they drove down the country roadway Rick noticed what appeared to be a darkened RV parked next to a small stand of trees. There didn’t appear to be any activity that he could see. Doubtless someone fleeing from the east who’d decided to pull over for a night’s rest before continuing on whereever their destination might be. He gave it nary another thought as he concentrated on scanning the unfamiliar road ahead. Another

    A mild curve in the road lay ahead, around which Rick could barely make out the dim light of approaching headlamps. Hopefully it was just a local on their way home from town or feeding the cattle at a distant lot, or whatever it was that farmers did late on a summer’s evening.

    The vehicles continued to close, now within direct sight of each other. The other vehicle appeared to be a pick-up truck, just what one might expect to find in this area. A utility box seemed to take up the rear he noticed as they passed, each slowing a bit and steering towards their right side respectively in order to make room on the undivided roadway. Common courtesy as well as a reasonable caution. The real danger on country roads were drivers who’d top a hill barreling down the center. On gravel roads such as the one they were on now the loose surface offered poor traction for the sudden maneuvers required to avoid a collision.

    Rick was confident that the glare of his Silverstar headlights precluded any chance of the other fellow catching his plate number, which would have indicated that he was definitely from out of county. On a regular highway that wouldn’t be a problem, but out here?

    There were no brake lights from the other vehicle as they passed, no apparent slowing. He breathed a quick sigh of relief, the latest of over 100 such sighs since leaving Ottumwa earlier in the day. What had started out as a more-or-less routine journey with little chance of excitement had turned into a near-nightmare, with cops over 1/3 of the state seeking his passenger, all because of an overzealous county sheriff and a deputy who’d evidently never learned to keep his finger off the trigger when drawing his weapon.

    Dateline: PAS Supply Convoy

    “Okay, thanks, bud. I appreciate everything you’re doing for us. No, no. Really, you deserve it. I won’t forget this. Yeah. Bye.” Raymond hung up the pay phone and made his way back to the car and Charlotte.

    “Everything okay?” Charlotte asked.

    “Yeah, we’re okay now. Ely’s gonna pass my debit card number along to the guy upstate so’s he can run it through the system a couple times over the next few days. That way we can show I paid for the motel room for the night and then like we decided to stay over a few more days and visit. Ought to cover for our time gone.”

    But what about our not being there? People can’t remember someone who wasn’t there to begin with.” Charlotte was ever the one to think ahead to the next step in the process.

    “Covered. Ely and the missus are gonna be there at the funeral and the luncheon. No one up that way knows them so he and his wife will just be two more people who can pass for a couple our age. Take some serious digging, photos and everything for anyone t’ be able to prove it weren’t us there. They’ll use the room, too. That way if there’s any questions other guests can honestly say they saw the car there and an occupied room, and maybe even a couple old farts like us going in an’ out.”

    “Raymond! Old farts indeed!” Charlotte did her best to appear miffed, but in reality she took no offense. The ‘old farts’ comment had been a running joke between Raymond and her late husband for years, beginning with Orville’s 40th birthday. Raymond, himself not yet turned 30, and a couple of years younger than Charlotte herself, had thought it quite funny at the time. It was funnier still when he reached his 4th decade and Orville in turn initiated Raymond in to the Old Farts Club during a surprise birthday party complete with black balloons and cake, a mocking lament of a life ill spent and a cardboard casket containing a foot.

    “Umm, what about the car any way?” Charlotte had obviously picked up on Raymond’s comment the car.

    “Yeah, well, I sorta invited Ely to take our car and use it, to add to the cover story. License plate, make and model, ya know? Just in case there’s someone with a good memory hanging around.”

    “Hm. You thought of everything,” Charlotte said.

    “I had a good teacher, Sis.”

    “Darn right you did.”

    “Just glad you have a lot of time built up at the hospital. They can’t say you ever abused sick call-in or time off. Best I recall the last time you took any time off was when Orville passed. God rest his soul anyhow.”

    Charlotte blinked away a momentary mistiness to eyes before replying. “I know, Raymond, I know. I wish he was here to see what’s become of his work.”

    “Likely he knows, Sis. I’m sure the Good Lord is allowing him a look down on us, maybe even ‘lowing him to lend a helping hand here and there.”

    “I hope so, Raymond, I dearly hope so.”

    No more was said as they pulled out of the parking lot next to the local convenience store and made their way through the small town towards the point where they had left the truck long enough to make a quick couple of calls. Twenty – no more than thirty - more minutes would see them arriving at their destination, hours past due and completely unsuspecting of the chaos that would greet them.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    “Let’s move him over the side here a , more towards the corner, and turn the bed so it’s along the wall. I’ll need to be able to get around it so I can work on his other side. But this way I can screen off the area from the rest of the room.”
    “Gotcha. Okay, I got the head end. Let me know when you’re ready.” Belloc wasn’t sure what it was Andrea was trying to accomplish with any certainty but he was game to be of help in any way he could it if meant safety and care for his wounded soldier. If she wanted to rearrange the room to accommodate more patients it was fine with him. Any way, it was downright demoralizing, seeing Dan laying there like that, hooked up to IV’s and fidgiting in his sleep, an occasional low groan coming from him, as if he was having a nightmare. Which, Belloc, sighed to himself, doubtless he was. For that matter, they all were these days.

    Sara was close to hand, eager to start playing her role as Andrea’s Senior Assistant. Her role was to be that of a Nursing Aide, given time, experience and no little training. Time of course would come to pass, and training would be on the fly. Experience was beginning to look plentifully available. For now the real question was, would she be up to the tasks that lay ahead of her?

    The make-shift bed, patient and all, was moved with a couple of “oofs” and grunts. The patient was now only a couple feet out from the left-side wall, head towards the outside of the house, feet towards the door-side wall. He fidgited a bit but showed no other signs of rousing. His breathing was easier, his pulse quick, steady and strong. The last of the fluids were running in, controlled by gravity and the built-in roller clamp. The IV sites themselves appeared to be patent, with no redness or swelling at the insertion sites. Lacking proper saline locks Andrea was going to have to clamp off the IV tubings themselves when the time came. Need to keep a bit of fluid available for flushing the sites, she reminded herself. If the truck didn’t show up as promised she’d have to maintain patency as best she could without fluids running.

    Dateline: Iowa County Road C2W

    Roger, the erstwhile auto parts delivery truck driver, was singing off-key in accompanyment to the country-western tunes issuing from his radio. He was a happy-go-lucky fellow by anybody’s measure, and tonight he felt particularly pleased with himself. He’d buffaloed the State Trooper back near Urbana, and there hadn’t been a hitch since. The Isuzu was running well, his load seemed to be staying tight in place, and the weather was clear. Traffic volume was low, even lower since he’d diverted from the “official” route and taken to the back roads.
    As per the plan he’d not made contact with anyone once he left. No phone calls to trace, no stops where someone might remember his face or manner of dress, or want to strike up a conversation about cheap import parts ruining the auto industry as had happened in the past.

    Roger was taking no chances whatsoever. Keokuk County had been given a wide birth when departing Ottumwa. Tonight he was hiding in plain site as much as practical, staying on the regular highways as would be expected of a truck bearing the brand logo sported on the sides and back door. His speed was regulated by the cruise control to be right at the posted limit on the flat sections. Every traffic control he encountered was meticulously adhered to, every regulation observed.

    With any luck at all he’d arrive at the hidden hospital site, offload the truck and be back in Ottumwa about sunrise. Once he was back on the main route there would be literally nothing whatsoever to associate him with the station. His wallet held no phone lists that he didn’t normally carry, i.e. family contacts, business numbers, etc. He had a modest amount of cash, one major credit card, a health plan card, and photos of the kids and wife. Strictly benign stuff. Even the maps he carried in the cab were routine, the same ones he’d carried for several years. On rare occasions he’d be contracted to make a drop off-site and would need to be able to find his way around. The odd combine tire and wheel, or a compressor for a road construction outfit – anything that paid and could be acquired through his contract employer that was otherwise needed quickly and not part of regular stock for the small town parts outlets.

    Roger’s cover had been worked out several years before. His truck, despite being emblazoned with the company name and logo, was actually contracted. He owned it, insured and maintained it, and had final say as to what was carried or not. He chose his own routes to save a few miles here and there. On days off he would occasionally carry a private contract load, thus accounting for any discrepancy in his mileage logs. That way whenever he had to move a load for the group there were no questions about unauthorized miles being billed to his customer – it was within his rights to use his truck as he saw fit outside of his contracted runs, so long as he did nothing to bring embarassment to the company.

    Granted, were he pulled over and searched tonight there would have been a scandal of epic proportions, but there was no reason to believe that he would be. The chance encounter earlier had been just that, chance. Even without the manhunt going on the trooper would likely have pulled a spot inspection merely because he could. That and the fact that he aspired to be seen as a rising star who was attentive to detail and deserving of promotion to a better assignment and higher rank. There was always one in every organization, those who actively sought the attention of their higher ups.

    End Chapter XIV
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  16. #56
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    Chapter XV: Meatball Surgery

    Patriot Aid Station Chapter XV – Meatball Surgery

    Dateline: Virginia Aid Station

    Randy was very near beside himself with anger. “Damn it anyhow! Talk about a waste of materials!”

    The object of his disgust was a loose pile of boxes and containers, filled with the remains of medical supplies, medications, instruments and accessories that had been culled from a larger delivery. The boxes were riddled with holes, or broken or crushed, and no few of them had various liquids leaking from or on them.

    “Look at this, will you? I’ve been sifting through a case of Ventolin inhalers, and out of the entire lot I found 3 that are usable, and maybe another 4 or 5 canisters that can be salvaged if you put them with a mouthpiece. That’s it. At this rate the only thing that’s going to be filling up faster than the cemetery is the landfill.”

    Dale, one of the hospital’s non-medical personnel serving in a jack-of-all-trade’s capacity, looked up from the opposite side of the pile where he was working. “I hear ya. Never saw such a mess in my life. Cryin’ shame ya ask me.” He stood upright and stretched his back before continuing his thought. “Though from what I understand we’re pretty lucky to get what we did. Half of the truck was shot all to heck and gone from what I was told.”

    Randy sighed in turn. “Yeah, I know. I suppose I ought to be happy that the thing wasn’t the victim of a rocket grenade instead of just an MG. Still, it’s a crying shame all right. Frustrating, just damnably frustrating. Too many casualties, not enough supplies, and every now and then we lose one I know good and well could have been saved if they had access to a decent ER, never mind an OR that was properly staffed and equipped.”

    “What can you do? The University hospital up north cooperates with the Feds from what I hear. Several guys taken there are sitting in cells somewhere. No telling what’ll happen to them. Likely they’ll get sent up for 30 years or more, and pretty hard conditions at that.”

    This time Randy just grunted in return. The thought was never far from his mind. No matter how upset he was about the working conditions there were worse alternatives for the wounded so-called ‘Rebel’ men and women. Sometimes death itself was the better deal than the alternative offerings. The government – he still tended to think in terms of normalcy rather than what the present day had become – had thrown the book out the window, refusing anything approaching observation of Geneva Accord-like treatment of prisoners. An extremely left-leaning newspaper that had somehow managed to survive the past few years of declining readership had opined that the Rebels were only reaping what was sown in the years of the Bush Administration and their purported maltreatment of Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. What the editorial columnist failed to make note of what that even the most farfetched allegation that ever arose from Gitmo was tame by comparison to what taking place in the present time.

    “Any way,” Dale continued “we seem to’ve got a pretty good lot we weren’t expecting, and there’s still some savable stuff in here. I ain’t done sorting any way. Some of the stuff just needs cleaning is all.”

    “Yeah, I know. Just frustrated, like that’s anything new. Seeing all these ruined inhalers just tripped something in me I guess.” Randy sighed again, this time with the weariness of it all. Weariness caused by long hours, short supplies, rough living conditions and the unjustified but sometimes understandable anger expressed by some of the patients. Patients who thought they were somehow being shorted in the care and attention they received. “At least we’re not finding any narcotics amongst this mess. Not that there were any with the cases that weren’t damaged. I’d be a damn sight more pissed though if we found there were some on that truck, only to find they’d been destroyed during the fight. Not nearly enough to go around as it is.”

    Dale ran a hand through thinning sandy hair before speaking again. “I know as well as anyone working the wards there isn’t enough morphine. You can tell that just by the sounds at night, when things are quiet and you can hear some of the moans and cries.”

    “Yeah, I know. Well, here’s a lucky find.” Straightening up from the crushed cardboard box he had just opened Randy held up a pale green thick cloth pad.

    “Hmmmph. Doesn’t look like much and it’s got a big tear in it anyhow.” It was obvious that Dale didn’t realize the significance of the find so Randy undertook to educate him on the importance of the item.

    “It’s an incontinence pad. Waterproof on the bottom, absorbent on the topside. They’re placed under people who are incontinent of urine or feces to protect the bedding and make cleanup easier. We have a guy who managed to catch dysentery of all things. Bad water most likely. Just hope it’s not from a regular source or we’ll be seeing more cases. I had to look it up as it is. Pretty third world stuff, that.”

    “Won’t the tear make it pretty well useless” Dale asked.

    “As it sits right now, yeah. But it can be patched. Beats trying to make these up from scratch. Says on the box there’s 48 of them in here and it doesn’t look like the round went from the top down so maybe we’ll get lucky and find a bunch that are as good to go as they are. Once they get all the crud washed off that is,” he added as an afterthought. The one he had in his hands seemed to have some sort of soapy substance spilled on it.

    “Okay, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any more then. Helps to know what you are looking at for sure” Dale replied.

    “You run across anything you aren’t sure of just give a yell and I’ll help” Randy offered.

    The supplies they were sorting through had been salvaged from a shot-up semi trailer by a sympathetic resident of the area in which they had been found. For reasons that were unclear the truck had been fired upon as it sat alongside an interstate off-ramp, the driver presumably, because he had not survived the attack, having pulled off for rest after driving his allotted hours for the day. It was rumored that the truck was operated by USA Freightways, and that that had been the basis for the attack. Like so many other incidents the facts of the matter would likely never be known.

    The cargo was reported to be a mixed lot, including several pallets of assorted medical supplies, which fortuously included various medications that were probably intended to restock a small hospital pharmacy somewhere. The person who had brought the shipment to the camp had mentioned that the finder had also reported a lot of shot-up household appliances spilling out of a rupture in the trailer shell. Doubtless lack of a new microwave or coffee maker would upset some would-be customers more than the loss of critical medical supplies. Rather than cursing their luck that the load had included only a modest quantity of medical items the staff was counting their blessings that it had included any at all. From the sketchy description supplied the truck sounded as if it had been just one of tens of thousands of commercial bulk carriers that occupied the road on any given day.

    Supply had been a continuing headache since day one for the Aid Station. Some members of the crew had freely offered their opinion that push come to shove burglarizing a storehouse somewhere for desperately needed medications in particular would be morally justifiable. Others were not so certain. In the end nothing came of the idea and they continued to depend upon sketchy means of acquisition. No one argued against using what were in effect the spoils of war.

    Dateline: Rural Iowa Near Boone

    Jeremiah Lundberg was a man with a mission. As head of the environmentalist group that was slated to join forces with the Loyalists, and their allies the Royal Guard and their kin, he was responsible for the direction of a now-reduced force of granola-crunching and rock worshiping New Agers who saw their cause as divinely inspired. They were poorly armed, even worse when it came to tactics, and to a person bright-eyed at the prospect of dealing “justice” to those they saw as disrespectful of their Mother Earth, their goddess Gaia.

    Jeremiah guided his followers through claimed revelations, or “transpersonal experiences” as he referred to them. It was claimed by some, and widely accepted by many others, that Jeremiah was in communion with the very soul of the Earth, with Terra herself.

    “Jeremiah will consult with the goddess of the winds, the seasons, the trees and the soil, and she will instruct him that he may guide us truly and inerrant. We have been truly favored to have Jeremiah amongst us at this time in the Great Cycle of Being. For when has so much injury ever been inflicted upon the Mother Terra, and the means to redress this insult so close to hand? The enlightened leaders in the pagan city to the east shall welcome our efforts and reward us and make us the wardens of the new Nature, and all shall be as it was intended.”

    The irony of their reference to Washington, D.C. being a pagan city was lost upon the nature worshipers. In their narrow-minded view anyone who did not worship Gaia was a pagan, the linguistic origins of the term somehow having escaped their consideration.

    Jeremiah for his part had withdrawn to his rust-crusted and dented motor home. He was too clever to fall for the failings of so many would-be prophets who had gone before him. He maintained a private as well as public lifestyle as befitted a true child of nature. His philosophy as expressed was use it up, wear it out, do without. The much-patched and repaired land yacht was in keeping with this. At the insistence of fawning sycophants he had given over to the care of others his authentic 60’s-era Volkswagen peacemobile, resplendent in the faded flowers that adorned its sides.

    Within the privacy afforded by the boxy vehicle he could properly enter that difficult to achieve state of inner nirvana, the meditative trance-like state in which he purported to communicate with the earth-soul. What his followers presumed was happening within the darked out vehicle was anything but reality. Jeremiah needed no trance state to communicate with his spirit being.

    There was of course the inner circle of close lieutenants. But even the most trusted of them was not privy to what went on within the sulci of his brain. No, Jeremiah was too clever for that, to give anyone a close glimpse of what actually went through his mind. There would be no rumors based in fact, no chance for anyone to grow disabused with their guru and reveal inner secrets previously known to only a select few.

    Now the purported wisdom of the goddess was being revealed to his assembled followers. Speaking from the platform of a convenient stump located across from the campfire from his flock Jeremiah quietly exhorted his ragtag earth-army in tones of voice so low his speech was almost drowned out by the crackling of the flames.

    “We shall adopt the stealth, the cunning and the guile of our brother the fox. Our ears shall be pricked to discern the slightest sound, the merest hint of danger. Our nose shall scent the air for the stench of the oppressors that seek us. The earth shall provide our cover as we cross it, safe from our enemy the hunters. We shall blend into the background while we make our way in safety across the intervening hills and valleys, streams and pathways."

    "Gaia has shown me the way to travel in order to throw off the chains that bind her while her torturers beat her in their pathetic attempts to make her bow to their will. We shall join with our brothers in battle and overthrow the keepers of the wicked and hated factory that produces the evil weapons that wound our great mother and make her streams fill with the tears she sheds at the poisons that infect her – the poisons that the abusers of our sacred mother produce for the purpose of their pagan wars against each other, heedless of the great sorrow they bring upon our loving goddess and her children.”

    Jeremiah’s affect on his audience was hypnotic. By speaking in a low voice they had to strain to hear his words. There were no whispers, giggles or snide remarks in the ranks; to do so meant missing what he was saying, never mind the instant and severe disapproval that would come from the other followers.

    The firelight seemed to make his eyes glow, an effect enhanced by carefully tinted contacts. The glowing effect in turn added to the mystique that surrounded their leader. He was gifted to be sure, in very dark ways.

    “The time has come for us to adopt the cloak of the invisible. Gone will be the adorned buses, the customized vans, and the brightly colored vehicles that have been a trademark of our people, of our movement. Make them appear as innocent as those of any farmer or merchant. Gather the accursed tax plates from other vehicles and fasten them to our own, that we may pass as members of the mindless sheep who inhabit this area, beating the earth into submission while heedless of her cries. Adapt the dress and manner of the oppressors of our brother and sister animals. Then, when on the morrow we are ready we shall go forth singly and in pairs and make our way to the scene of the great battle that awaits us. Where our brothers in spirit await our strength. Where we shall deal justice on those who would oppress the great mother earth for the sake of their obscene profits.”

    The look on his face, eerily illuminated by the firelight of the dancing flames, might best be described as feral. It wasn’t a bad description for a man who once identified himself as a brother to the wolf.

    “From this night onward we shall keep to ourselves. We shall do nothing to call attention to us or to our cause. There will be time later to punish the rapers of our cherished earth mother. When you depart this sheltering grove you shall have one goal only – to reach the gathering point where we shall join with our brethren, to increase our might so that none may resist us, or that which we stand for.”

    End Chapter XV Part I
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  17. #57
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    Chapter XV Part II

    Dateline: Andrea

    The first she had known of the program was a thread on an internet board that Andrea lurked from time to time. The thread was titled ‘Awesome Medical Course I Attended!’ As was her habit she clicked on it, not really expecting anything out of the ordinary. Instead she found an account of a 5-day course centering on unconventional medical practices aimed at austere environments. Included in the account was a link to a company that offered like courses to people engaged in medical relief missions.

    Andrea perused the site, thrilled further to find a link to a site that cataloged various medical relief opportunities around the world, ranging from locations inside the US that were traditionally underserved, such as American Indian reservations in the Southwest, to villages located in the Himalayas.

    Of additional interest were links to small companies that offered varying degrees of training for such endeavors. One of the more fascinating links was to a couple located in Texas who provided basic dental training – known as ART, or Atraumatic Restorative Therapy - to religious and medical missionaries. Her own knowledge in that area limited to a reading of a copy of Where There Is No Dentist she took the time to seek the instructors out. Her efforts were well rewarded when three months later she took a combination of paid vacation and scheduled days off to attend a 2-week course. There she learned the use of simple hand instruments used to rout out cavities prior to applying restorative materials. Aside from a source of light the methods required no power other than human muscle.

    Satisfied she had filled a gaping hole in her quest for unconventional medical knowledge Andrea set her sights on the original program that had lead her to her foray into dentistry. As she delved deeper into the course specifics she determined that what she sought was probably not contained within the touted mini-course, but more likely lay in some of the more in depth programs offered by the same outfit.

    After corresponding with the program medical director and a couple of instructors she took the plunge and signed up for a comprehensive basic course of 10 days length. The course itself was held in a Central American republic, out in the countryside at the local version of a chateau, replete with thatch roof, open air classroom and tropical flowers in full bloom.

    “Now, let’s take a minute and review what we’ve just learned about Benadryl. Besides it’s more familiar use for allergy symptoms and mild allergic reactions we can also use it to 1. induce sleep and 2. effect local anesthesia, either by way of injection or by crushing tablets, making a paste and leaving it in the wound for approximately 15 minutes, after which we wash it out and sew like crazy before it wears off 30 minutes later. Its properties include those of a sedative, a mild hypnotic, an antihistamine, an antiemetic and even a local anesthetic. It can also be used in combination with some painkillers to potentiate the action, though not as effectively as say Phenergan, which we generally regard as the gold standard.”

    The classes were modest in size, numbering no more than 25 people at a time. Her fellow attendees included medical students ranging from 2nd year to recent graduates, locals connected with disaster relief efforts, and a few healthcare providers like herself. During the course she studied wound closure and management, built rustic stretchers from indigenous materials, studied disease manifestations and treatments and more. The atmosphere was both informal and conducive to learning.

    Upon her return back to the States Andrea embarked on a book-buying spree. Her notebook was filled with references tossed out during the course that she had studiously taken care to record, Titles, authors, sources for the recommendations, whatever would allow her to track down the often obscure works.

    More of David Werner’s works were purchased, including Disabled Village Children. There were also Primary Surgery, Vol. I: Non-Trauma, and Vol. II: Trauma; Huckstep’s Simple Guide to Trauma; War Surgery, Field Manual by Husen, and later his latest work Save Lives Save Limbs, which she found particularly useful for the descriptions of field anesthesia training under austere conditions; Life After Injury by Hobbs et al; the Ship’s Medicine Chest and more; A. Trott’s Wounds and Lacerations was a particularly useful find that had somehow eluded her in the past.

    Her bookshelves now filled she began to devote evenings off to mining her stash for useful information. There wasn’t much relevant to her day-to-day work at the hospital but it did make for interesting discussions. Before long she became known for her unusually curious nature, asking questions of the friendlier docs whenever the opportunity arose. Once it became clear that she wasn’t questioning the reasoning for a particular treatment course but was instead seeking a deeper understanding a few opened up to her. One finally suggested that she undertake to join a medical relief mission and find out firsthand what it was like to function under a truly austere environment. Further questioning revealed that the good doctor had once joined such a mission, traveling with MEDICO to Honduras for a week spent in the village of San Antonio in north central Honduras. The experience she gained would prove extremely useful in years to come, though at the time she could hardly have foreseen that.

    Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

    The impact of the bullet spun the Royal Guardsman around before he fell. The pain was almost immediate, contrary to the common wisdom that had that the initial shock would prevent the injured party from feeling pain initially. The error factor of distance and the light breeze blowing between Clayton and his target intervened enough that the point of impact was just a hair off from what was intended. Instead of a shattered kneecap the soldier instead found his tibia and fibula no longer directly connected to his knee save for intervening muscles and tendons. The end effect would be little different though. He’d be a long time convalescing.

    The effect on the other troops within sight of the their fallen comrade was immediate. Combat instincts took over, with every man quickly seeking cover or going to ground where they stood. For the moment the wounded man was left to fend for himself. After a few moments, when no more incoming fire was discerned, one of his comrades-in-arms took it upon himself to call out to his erstwhile brethren.

    “سالم ، تكون أنت على نحو رديء ينجرح ؟” [Salim, are you badly hurt?]

    The wounded man responded through gritted teeth, his words barely discernable through the obvious pain in his voice. “ساقي ، مزّقت هو تقريبا باتّجاه آخر. ساعدتني ، أخي!” [My leg, it is nearly torn off. Help me, my Brother!]

    “يمان أخي! الله سيزوّد. الكافر سيجعل وثنيّة الذي قد أتمّ هذا وثيق مخجلة كنت مثال من ، رأسه سيزيّن البوابة إلى هذا قرية ملعونة.” [Faith my Brother! Allah will provide. The infidel heathen who has done this shameful deed will be made an example of; his head will adorn the gate to this accursed village.]

    A spasm of pain coursing through his lower limb the wounded man could only nod. He wanted to scream in response to the fiery agony that accompanied his destroyed flesh and bone but would not, not in view of the unfaithful Loyalist members of their contingent.

    From above hidden eyes watched the activity on the street before them. Barely audible words were whispered into a small boom mic, relaying to ears away from the immediate scene the results of the sniper’s attack. The faces accompanying those ears wore grim smiles.

    The patriot force opposing the advancement of the government expedition were too small to ensure a complete victory, too few to engage in a pitched battle. True, they could inflict massive casualties but at what cost to their own small force? Thus far their plan to harass and weaken the convoy was working well, very well given the modest materials available to them. There hadn’t been time to retrieve anywhere near the sum total of weapons and materials available to them once they’d been alerted to the movement. Even now there were others seeing to that on their behalf, but for now they’d make due with what they had at hand. It wasn’t much, but it would have to be enough.

    By now well removed from the town proper the decoy team had succeeded in luring away part of the contingent. Their task done they turned back towards the town from another direction after looping around 110 degrees from their original line of travel. The government forces had been engaged in wanton destruction, firing up buildings they thought might contain rebels, or sometimes just for the shear vandalistic aspect of their actions.

    While the southernmost portion of the arc of men moving through the town was pinned down now by the unseen sniper, the northern segment was now beginning to feel the effects. The sporadic fire they had been receiving for the past few minutes now became intensified, more purposeful. Gone were the bursts from automatic weapons, or rather semi-automatics bump-fired to simulate automatics. The latter technique, while extremely noisy, did nothing for accuracy. Contrary to the claims of the anti-gun advocates the short streams of metallic destruction were no more effective at causing deaths than firing into the air. The idea was to create distraction and confusion from a relatively safe distance, not to go toe-to-toe with the enemy combatants.

    Now, however, all of that was about to change. With the word passed along that the first sniper attack had been successful to scattered pairs of men and women now changed tactics, bringing to bear optically sighted bolt arms seeking out any body part peeking from behind cover. Hit them, hurt them, make them bleed, but don’t kill them. Yet. There would be time for that later, down the road.

    Next to suffer for his alliance was one of the American troops. The skinhead seen earlier experienced the rapid and traumatic loss of a chunk of muscle from his right upper arm, thanks to a well-placed round fired by a .243 caliber varmint rifle safely ensconced within a thicket 80-odd yards away on the edge of town.

    The weapon operator quickly evacuated the firing point, running in a crouch to another position a few yards to the rear. From there, once he’d received the nod from his partner, who was located farther back but still within sight of the street with the aid of long glasses, he retreated further while now safely out of sight of their quarry. Hit, fade, reposition.

    The crews of the light armored vehicles were not forgotten through all of this. Rather than being stopped in the middle of the square as had been the original hope they’d made a bold if blind run through the town to the other side where they were tentatively laagered down in the yard of a body shop, semi-sheltered amidst the carcasses of wrecks too tattered and torn to be rebuilt. The body of the deceased loader had been hastily removed and a modest attempt made to remove some of the bloody mess. Between the 2 vehicles there were only 5 men remaining. Both vehicles remained combat capable if now rather worn but the 90 mm guns would be next to useless in a close fight. Other than a few grenades all the crews had to defend themselves with were short-barreled AKS-74U’s fitted with folding stocks to make them easier to bear inside the cramped vehicles. The coaxial MG’s would be of little use unless the vehicles were reoriented.

    The rebels facing them, as yet unseen and undiscovered, had nothing in their meager arms inventory that would wreak any meaningful further havoc upon the vehicles themselves. The crews, however, were a different matter. They had counted 5 heads, mistakenly assuming that the 6th crewman was either inside one of the Panhards yet, manning the gun, or simply better hidden than his compatriots. They did not know yet that they had inflicted a fatality. Not that the news would have bothered them in the least.

    End Chapter XV Part II
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  18. #58
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    Chapter XV Part III

    Chapter XV Part III

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    A warning whistle issued out of the darkness. Ears perked up at the sound of this, and Belloc and Karl, then Andrea and Karl, exchanged glances that said ‘now what?’ The escort crew had departed not 4 minutes earlier, not nearly long enough for them to have reached their charge and been able to return. That meant….

    Everyone quickly took their places once again, with Andrea shouting instructions to the girls to stay with the patient before she herself ran out the front door, closing it firmly behind her as she did in order that extraneous light not give away anyone’s position.

    On the roadway another vehicle approached down the gravel road, moving with apparently deliberate slowness as if searching in the night. The distant crunch of tires on gravel was the loudest noise heard before the vehicle drew nearly abreast of the drive. It came to a near halt before the wheels turned into the drive and the headlights cast their revealing beacons across the trees that shielded direct view of the farmstead from the road as the front end swung around.

    Hidden eyes watched the vehicle, which appeared to be of a lower profile rather than a full-size sport utility vehicle. The driver seemed confident if wary, as if not quite sure they had the right place. The headlights continued in an arc that swept over the outbuildings in the distance before completing the arc and coming to rest on the house itself. The illumination gathered in force and size as the vehicle drove very deliberately towards the house, coming to a halt approximately 30 feet from the front porch, just where the yard turned into the dirt and loose gravel of the farmyard itself.

    Brake lights winked out, leaving the parking and headlights only. The engine settled into an idle, and the driver’s door opened, the interior light revealing what appeared to be the head of a passenger lying back in a reclined position.

    “Hey, in the house. Anyone home?”

    A male voice broke from behind the vehicle and the driver’s attention.

    “That sort of depends on who you’re looking for and why.” Karl had approached from behind the vehicle, knowing that Andrea was again around the corner of the house where she could cover the driver from his front left.

    To his credit the driver did not turn around but merely turned his head slightly to the left in order to be heard more clearly.

    “I might be in the wrong place. If so I offer my apologies. Mind if I ask, though, where I am?”

    “I might,” Karl responded. “Mind if I ask who it is you are looking for, and why? Things being the way they are, and it happening to be after dark you can understand why I’m wondering how you just happened to choose an isolated farm like this.”

    The driver shrugged. “Fair enough. I’m looking for the Whitewater place. I was supposed to make a delivery there earlier today but had some mechanical problems.”

    “Got more than a last name or did you just happen to pull that out of your backside?”

    “Bambi farm, run by a lady goes by ‘Thumper’. That help any?”

    Andrea, who had been eavesdropping on the conversation from her position around the corner of the house, now stepped into the light cast by the headlamps. The driver turned his attention towards her expectantly.

    “This delivery, would it happen to be the person I see in the front there? The one who’s in trouble?”

    The driver sighed audibly. “Yes ma’am. I was delayed by a flat, had a heck of a time getting to the spare much less getting it on. Should have been here two hours ago. Just hope I’m not too late.”

    His last words alarmed her. Andrea quickly strode across the intervening space as Karl moved closer in order to cover her with his AK.

    Moving to the passenger side door she opened it to reveal a husky man dressed in sweat-saturated work clothes. He turned to face her, pain streaking his visage. His left leg was partially elevated in the cramped passenger space, the boot gone from that foot and the pants leg pulled up to reveal what appeared to be in the dim light of the overhead a very pale limb.

    Practiced instinct took over. “Tell me what happened.”

    Leadfoot answered her with a harsh whisper through gritted teeth. “Got shot’s what. Started ta hurt like hell a coupla hours later, been gettin’ worse since.”

    Deciding that the vehicle was no place to perform the kind of comprehensive assessment that was called for Andrea motioned to Karl. “Let’s get him inside right away. I need to look at that leg.”

    Karl wasted no time. “Yo, Rock! We need some muscle over here pronto.” Belloc came at a run, followed by Wendell. Between the three men they managed to pull Leadfoot from the car and form a 3-man carry. Rick tried to make himself useful but quickly found there wasn’t room in the line-up.

    They managed to gain the porch and then the front room with a minimum of stumbling. There, at Andrea’s direction, they laid Leadfoot down on the floor. One of the girls had thoughtfully tossed a large towel down, using a smaller one to form a rudimentary pillow. Andrea barely noticed.

    “I’m Irene. And you are……?” Andrea began her interview at the same time she began to assess the injury.

    “Call me Leadfoot. Ev’ryone else does. It works.”

    “Okay, ‘Leadfoot’, let’s begin by you telling me what happened and when.”

    His words coming in gasps he gave her the bare details of the trip up, starting with a routine traffic block and inspection station set up by the overzealous deputies back in Keokuk County. The fumble-fingered AD by the one, the haphazard firing of the shotgun by the other, the blast of which caught both him and the first deputy, and the resulting injury to his foot and leg. Since then the pain had started to grow beyond annoying to become all-consuming. There was only the pain, nothing else in the way of sensation below his mid-calf. There were Charlotte’s ministrations that seemed to little effect, and her concern that sent them on ahead of the rest. And now here they were.

    The leg itself was pale and mildly swollen. The toes were slightly curled back. The distal pulses to the anterior foot and medial ankle were diminished when compared to the opposite foot. A definite suspicion was beginning to form in Andrea’s mind, and it was not pleasant.

    “When, exactly, did this injury happen?”

    “Round abouts 8:30. That make a difference?” Leadfoot’s expression was giving way from pain to worry.

    “It may, yes. And when did you first notice the pain was increasing?”

    “Bout the first time I stepped on the clutch. Oww!” Leadfoot reacted as Andrea attempted to judge the resistance of the toes to being pulled back to their normal flattened position.

    “I mean later, when did it begin to hurt more, to grow worse and not let up” Andrea prompted.

    “Oh, I gotcha. Round abouts noon or 1:00 sometime. We stopped long enough for Charlotte to pass me some ibuprofen then went on until we could stash the rig outa sight and wait for help.”

    “How long after you took the ibuprofen before the pain started to worsen rather than get better, assuming the ibuprofen helped any?” Andrea was persistent in her line of questioning, the answers critical to her forthcoming decision.

    “Ahh, I guess 3 or so. I figured the pills was a wearin’ off by then. I took another dose but it didn’t seem to help as much, and then it got worse and worse. She gave me some of them codeine pills, too, but they didn’t do anything the ibuprofen didn’t do.”

    At this Rick broke in to the conversation. I hate to interrupt but…”

    Andrea took her attention away for Leadfoot for a moment to regard him. “Go on.”

    “Well, uhh, you see, we were holed up for a bit once we got across I-80. Got a message that we’d been seen so we had to hide out for a time. Any way, while we were waiting for a new truck to reach us Leadfoot here starting getting worse. He’d been driving all the way since he got shot and Charlotte sorta figured maybe the stress on his leg and such might have made things worse. There was supposed to be another driver coming but she figured as how this might not wait and had me head up here with him. I hit some glass on the road and lost 20 minutes driving on the rim just to find a place to hide out long enough to swap wheels. That took over an hour by itself, or we’d have been here a long time back.”

    Andrea took all of this information in, and then asked, “So his timeline is pretty accurate then?”

    “Yeah, I think so. Started getting bad around three sometime. We’d been waiting for an hour and a half by then. Charlotte had been checking him pretty regular and he just up and whooped the last time she pressed around. She gave him the codeine pills then and waited for a while, ‘til she saw they wasn’t having any effect. Then she got worried.”

    Andrea’s audience waited quietly while she finished her assessment. She noted that as well as the leg wound that there were penetrations through the sole of the foot itself with no exit wounds, but they didn’t explain the pain in the leg. There was a deepening trench on the calf side of the leg that ended with an oblong puncture where the projectile finally burrowed beneath the flesh, approximately 3-1/2” from where it first made contact.

    Quickly relieving Leadfoot of his pants she determined that the wounds she saw initially were all there were. This wasn’t accomplished without additional embarrassment to the girls, who’d already witnessed one such trauma strip tonight. They were reassured though when Andrea stopped with the pants alone, leaving Leadfoot clad in boxers and shirt.

    Sitting back on her heels Andrea carefully considered for a moment her tentative diagnosis, knowing full well that it was as much a shot in the dark as it was a potential likelihood. Nodding to herself, her mind made up, she turned to Belloc, who happened to be standing closest.

    “In my Blazer is a cell phone, on the dash. I need it pronto.” Belloc left without a word, returning within a minute with the requested item. Andrea used the time to consider what she was about to do, and why.

    Taking the proffered phone she quickly dialed in a memorized number. It would be answered by a contact in Arkansas, who in turn would relay the message through yet another contact, before it made its way to the intended recipient.

    Couching her words carefully she quickly explained her needs. Then, after receiving confirmation that her message had been understood and would be relayed forthwith she cut the connection.

    “Now we wait. Meantime let’s get Leadfoot here more comfortable. Ruth, I’m going to need hot water, lots of it, for washing with and other uses. Better make two pans - one boiling - just in case.”

    “Yes, ma’am. Which would you like first, the boiling water or just warm?”

    “What…oh, duh! It’s a one-burner camp stove. Ahh, just the warm water first. I need to wash up and get our friend here washed up also.”

    “I’ll get right on it, ma’am.” Ruth turned on her heel and made straight for the kitchen. Andrea looked thoughtful for a moment longer and then turned to the other girls waiting along the wall, out of the way.

    “Girls, I’m sorry to have to ask this but I’m going to need to borrow one of your mats for the night. We’ll have beds later but not until after we need one for our new patient.” She accompanied this statement with a look that was as imploring as it was apologetic.

    Sara and Jeanette looked at each other for a moment, and then both broke into mischievous grins. “Ruth’s!” they both cried in unison, then broke into giggles.

    Andrea couldn’t help but smile at that. “Any of them will do. As it is it looks like we’ll have to sleep in shifts tonight any way. Ruth is going to need to be up early cooking for a crowd, and I’m going to be up most if not all night as it is.” She sighed, more to herself than for effect. “Okay, let’s get to it. Grab a pallet and drag it down here. We’ve got a lot to do and very little time to get it done.”

    The girls scurried away to the upstairs to retrieve the requested item. Leadfoot, for his part, merely stared at the ceiling, his lips barely moving as if in silent prayer.

    End Chapter XV Part III
    Last edited by Reasonable Rascal; 05-13-2006 at 03:59 AM. Reason: Editing Goof
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  19. #59
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    Chapter XV Part IV

    Dateline: PAS Supply Convoy

    A bare handful of miles away an alphanumeric pager began to vibrate.
    [Not very urgent. So if you happen to arrive tonight not soon can get things tomorrow as needed. Uncle Dale Quicke]

    The protocol allowed for up to 250 numbers, letters or symbols. This allowed for reasonably lengthy messages, an important factor since the recipient was intended to read every other, every third or every third or even fifth word to discern the hidden message. The simple expedient of creating two spaces between each word in the opening sentence told the receiver which the count was. There were other methods as well but this was the simplest and least complicated. Since there was no way to determine where the pager was while receiving the message should it happen to be intercepted there was little to no threat to security. Thus Raymond read the message as follows: Urgent you arrive soon things needed quick. The attached relationship and name were an occasionally used authentication intended to also make it look as if it might need to be made clear who the message sender was, as if the sender were only a casual user. Just one more added tidbit of confusion for eyes not intended to read the message.

    Charlotte looked over at her brother. “Trouble?”

    “Yeah,” was Raymond’s reply. “Sounds like they are getting desperate for the supplies. Something must be happening with Leadfoot.” He concentrated on his driving for a moment longer then asked “Didn’t you say Andy had supplies and drugs with her?”

    “Yes, she carries a personal bag. But… oh no. That means, uhh, that means that it’s bad, real bad, if she can’t handle it with what she has already. She showed me her bag the other day; pretty well stocked. But if she wants the stuff on the truck that could mean she thinks she can handle it once she has the proper things. Or he’s worse than I thought and she can’t get him stabilized.”

    Raymond shrugged. “Message didn’t say any way that they were going to break security and move him, so yeah.”

    “How far away are we do you think?” Charlotte asked.

    “Maybe 10 – 15 minutes tops. But that doesn’t factor in finding the stuff in the truck. Andy will be treating Leadfoot, so that leaves her out. Just Rick, the other driver, you and me to unload. And you and I ain’t young pups no more.” A defining sigh followed this last. “Things sure aren’t off to a good start, I’ll say that.”

    “Just you remember what Pastor Ricker said in his sermon this week: ‘Trust in the Lord and He will provide for all our wants.’ ”

    “I know, Char, I know. He’s helped us this far, don’t see Him backing out now,” silently adding in his own mind ‘You aren’t going to, are you?’

    The next few miles were traveled in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. So much depended upon the success of their mission, so many lives could potentially be helped with care and a safe haven. They hadn’t discussed it with Andrea, yet, but they had bigger plans for the aid station. Charlotte and Raymond were the two persons affiliated with their group who were the most in the know.

    The network was large, stretching across state lines and even national boundaries, across religious, cultural and social barriers. It had been years in the building, and truthfully no one could say who had first thought of the concept. It had started as a mutual assistance group, a few scattered people here and there who had pledged to support each other in modest ways should the others be affected by civil unrest, natural disaster, or in other ways.

    The concept of the remote aid station had been bandied about amidst various groups within the network. When Charlotte had first approached Raymond about it he had suggested they toss the idea out for feedback, and meantime interview Andrea to determine to their own satisfaction if she was legitimate in her desire, and capable. There was a lot riding on this trial aid station. There were others of course out east, close to the fighting, but they were modeled more on the MASH model, intended to be mobile. They weren’t set up for long-term recuperation. Since there was no rear area per se that was considered to be entirely safe from official interference, and the civilian hospitals had shown themselves too willing too often to cooperate with the hand that fed them vis a vis reimbursements from the Medicare and Medicaid systems, what was needed was an entirely new model.

    The group in Ottumwa was more proactive than other member groups, plus they had a person who had approached them about building such a facility. The events in Iowa were being closely watched. The knowledge weighed heavily upon the minds of Raymond and Charlotte.

    Dateline: Iowa

    Fred Hawkins started his day by grabbing a cup of coffee in the lobby. Following that was a donut that he munched on while perusing the remainder of the breakfast selections. After the past couple of weeks spent on the road he saw no reason to present himself as anything other than what he was, a retired senior citizen staying overnight at a middle-class motel.

    His contacts had assured him that there was no warrant out for him, and as long as he obeyed all the traffic and other laws he saw no reason not to hide in plain sight. Later this morning he would be meeting with a man he hoped would prove to be his salvation. There was a large shipment of materials in Wisconsin that might prove crucial down the road in the fight to regain the country. Fred had no intention of allowing it to remain where it was.

    The plan he had formulated on the road back in Wisconsin was to find a plane capable of carrying the load, have it fly in and pick it up, and fly back to Iowa. The cache was located near Madison, which would have meant a long time on the road, and presumably would have increased exposure to Royal Guard units or their erstwhile allies. It made sense any way, since the sitting Governor in Madison seemed to favor a policy of détente when it came to dealings with the federal government these days. The liberalism extant in the southern reaches of the state also did not bode well as far as people minding their own business.

    A couple of calls had been made the day before. One person promised to do what they could but didn’t sound too hopeful. The other seemed more positive. He was the person Fred was waiting to meet with this morning.

    Later, over coffee in a small diner that catered mostly to farmers and other retirees like himself Fred met with Dennis Roads. Dennis wasn’t able to be of help himself, his own plane was much to small to carry the load Fred had described, but he knew someone who had both the plane and the skills Fred was seeking. More importantly, he could be trusted. The man had flown bush runs up north for a couple of years before his better half insisted that they retreat to a warmer clime. The idea of the stealthy venture would appeal to him for its own sake.

    They kept their voices low but deliberately nonconspiratorial, making plans to have fuel available and people on both ends to make loading and unloading easier. In any case they’d have to arrange for delivery to the airstrip in Wisconsin of the materials. Fred believed he could handle that end of things, while Dennis was willing to ensure transportation once it reached Iowa. The delivery point would be near Randalia in Fayette County. There was an unimproved grass strip there that Dennis knew of that was available. He didn’t say by whom directly but hinted that it might involve illicit coyote hunts, other than more legitimate use on rare occasions by crop dusters hired for area farms. Because of the way it was situated in the terrain it would be free of direct observation from any road and the area was sparsely populated enough that they wouldn’t attract undue attention. In any case the locals were used to odd comings and goings and didn’t ask regard them as notable. So far as he was able to say it had never been used for drug running so wouldn’t be a site of note by law enforcement either. Rumors surrounding the purported hunting activity weren’t taken too seriously if they were even of concern at all.

    One thing Dennis agreed upon was the need for a refueling in Wisconsin before the load was retrieved. As both men saw it once it was aboard the pilot would beat feet back to a safer area on the western side of the Mississippi. The cargo slated for movement was heavy enough that a reduced fuel load would be necessary to allow for reasonable safety margins. Technically a refueling wouldn’t be needed, no more than the distances involved mapped out to be, but both also agreed that tactical diversion as far as points of origin and destination were justified. No flight plan would be filed but the pilot would fly below the level of regional radars until he reached the diversion points, at which time he’d make an appearance at the proper altitude. Later he would again disappear into the ground clutter before turning towards his final destination in Iowa.

    “I really don’t see any problems with the plan. There won’t be any attention paid until he enters the airspace in the vicinity of Madison, and once he’s gone, even if they take notice, he’ll be leading them to look in directions other than where we are concerned with in the end. They’d have to be very interested to be able to track his path by way of reported ground observations.” Dennis sat there looking reflective for a moment and then added, “I think it’s a good plan.”

    Fred nodded in return. “Yep, I’m thinking so too. Just worry that someone might catch sight of him, get suspicious and turn him in. They track his time and fuel purchases and such an’ yer friend is in a heap a bad trouble.”

    Dennis quickly explained what he thought would provide adequate cover in case such happened. “A quick hop later to another small field I know of, followed by a layover and then return, will cover the hours on the engine that might otherwise be used to overlay the actual time needed to fly the diversionary route. It would take eyewitnesses to prove he laid over to show that he wasn’t actually flying at the time. A legit flight plan to another destination where we can provide an observer with a cover story, drain enough fuel to provide a receipt showing an appropriate refueling for the hours on the engine meter, and we have plausible denial.”

    “Well, that sounds alright to me,” Fred responded with a slow drawl. “Not that I need to know but ah’m curious. What sorta plane are we talking about here?”

    “That’s the nice part. He flies a remanufactured Cessna 337 Skymaster. Twin engines, one front and one rear. Plenty of lift, short take off and landing, enhanced by the addition of an aftermarket STOL, or Short Take-Off and Landing, kit.”

    “Remanufactured? Ya mean used and a lot of rebuilt parts. Not something I’d care to trust up there in thuh wild blue.” Fred’s face told the rest of the story as far as he was concerned. “We need the stuff to get here, not get scattered across a corn field.”

    Dennis chuckled quietly. “No worries there. It’s been remanufactured to like new. Now it’s called a Riley Super Skyrocket. Very safe, forgiving plane. Worked like a charm up in the bush country for what he was doing. Not as capable or as fancy as their Caravan model but well suited for the size of load you’re trying to move. He’s got good instrumentation, just what’s called for with this job.”

    End Chapter XV Part IV
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  20. #60
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    Chapter XV Part V

    Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

    Having suitably established their alibi while meanwhile discussing and solving the problems plaguing the world at large Davey and Roger were quietly gathering their gear for the continuation of their journey into the countryside. Their tent would remain, as would the carefully set and tended fire, which would burn well into the night in more or less complete safety. They had gathered native cottonwood and elm, and built a fire bowl of rocks gathered from along the fence lines. A ring of bare earth some 2 feet in diameter had been built around the fire pit, with a trough leading down to feed logs more or less one at a time as the lower ones burned down. It wasn’t perfect but then it didn’t need to be, either. With any fortune at all the fire would continue to self-feed until after midnight, when a casual observer would notice it was beginning to die down.

    Though it was now dark they had taken the precaution of setting alignment stakes out while there was sufficient light to guide them. Over the course of 100 years the stakes would guide them in the dark until they were well aligned with a landmark that could be found in the dim light. From there they would risk a compass sighting using a blue night lens on their Mini-Mag. By that time they would be over the crest of an intervening hill, well shielded from the town below and over a mile distant.

    Sleeping bags and ground pads were once again secured inside internal frame packs, the type the boys preferred. They also carried rations for 2 days each, water containers, work gloves, spare clothing, rain gear and a first aid pouch. Between them they carried a compact saw and an Estwing camp axe, a lightweight cook set, and a small water purifier. The latter item was actually contraband in Iowa, which even at this late date had not yet approved the sale of the better units for reasons known only the bureaucrats in Des Moines, leaving the law-abiding backpacker with only less effective filtration units or chemical purification.

    Their preparations were carried out in silence, each boy lost to his own thoughts. With a nod to each other they set out, their feet carrying them onward to their own date with destiny.

    Dateline: USA

    Organs were developed with an eye towards supporting the patriot movement. Almost to a person the people involved agreed that no matter what their gripes with previous administrations - federal, state or local governments and agencies thereof - the new administration was setting new records when it came to blatant violations not only of Constitutional but also human rights. That alone was setting people dead against them who would otherwise have welcomed the change in administration. The Boxer administration was coming to be seen for what it truly was – evil.

    Just as with the first American Revolution the level of participation expressed as a percentage of national population levels was low, around 15% currently, as opposed to no more than 12% in the 1700’s. The difference was that now the people were better-educated, capable of near instant communication and in no few instances well prepared for come whatever may. The government’s own exhortations over the past 10 years via the Be Prepared campaign weighed against the plans of the new junta.

    Routine shipments of goods from overseas – oil, textiles, foodstuffs and more – were increasingly being diverted to ports away from the east coast. New York Harbor in particular was almost bereft of shipping. The lack of work was cause enough for the United Dockworkers to openly call for an end to hostilities. Behind the scenes the families that controlled the docks were making plans of their own. Patriotism was suddenly seen to be good business.

    Savannah was far below normal tonnage levels. Boston Harbor was a virtual graveyard. Fishing boats were afraid to put out, driving the cost of fresh seafood out of the price range of most Americans. Restaurants were closing as far away as the Rockies. The west coast establishments fared somewhat better, though changes to the menus presented to the dwindling customer base were notable for the lack of certain items not peculiar to the Pacific basin.

    Mexican farmacias were performing land office business. Normal supply sources were drying up, affected by gross disturbances in the normal distribution system. Nogales, Arizona once hosted a daily busload of seniors from Tucson seeking to cross the border to refill their prescriptions. Now they were up to 4 filled busses per day, and parking on the US side was at a premium for many blocks around for all the private vehicles. When the Border Patrol tried to crack down in response to a Washington edict that supplies being brought in with the intent of aiding Rebel forces be confiscated a near-riot ensued. Grey-haired old ladies and arthritic men leaning on canes physically threatened the border guards when lines grew to be in excess of 3 hours long while every bottle of arthritis and blood pressure medicine was thoroughly inspected for actual contents. After 2 days of this the border station was closed ‘due to a state of emergency.’ As it happened the border closing did not – could not –last.

    The actual riots started when Mexican nationals found themselves unable to cross to the US for day jobs and to shop at Wal-Mart (where the prices on items such as clothing and household goods were far below similar non-tourist oriented items available in Mexico) and other US stores. Border jumpers increased so that additional police forces were called out. The Mexican authorities, angered by the lack of access for their countrymen, who in no few cases included their own wives, daughters, sons and friends, aided rather than abetted the illicit crossings.

    The hard part was getting across to the US side. Who cared about Mexicans trying to sneak back in to their own country? The Border Patrol quickly gave up trying to inspect outgoing bags and parcels when they found them loaded with CD’s, Levi’s, Adidas shoes and Lemon Pledge. They could only shake their heads when they came upon a group with improvised ladders crossing from north to south with their purchases. They simply tore the ladders down when the flow southward tried to reverse back to the north as others attempted their own illicit shopping trips.
    In the desert areas the flow south was actually exceeding the flow north, as established illegals found it more profitable to carry large loads of contraband south than to remain in the north trying to survive by working for pay under the table. Some recrossed back north, but only to obtain another load for transport south. For once the Mexican authorities were being forced to patrol their side looking for smugglers heading INTO their country.

    Fort Huachuca became the focus of a federal investigation when rumors spread, compounded by the interception of one of the involved personnel from the base itself, that military personal sympathetic to the Rebel cause were actively aiding in the supply of materials to citizen-friendly sources. Medications, yes, but also modest amounts of arms, munitions and other items. Despite apparently strenuous efforts on the part of the base CO no one else was ever implicated, and the CO found himself traveling back to Washington to explain in person how men and women under his command could have actively aided Rebel forces.

    Yuma Marine Corps Air Station was the site of tense activity as conflicting views amongst the senior officers wrestled for control of the forces stationed there. Affected by the fact that they shared the land area in common was Yuma International Airport. Security was tightened to levels that made the period after 9-11 seem like a cakewalk by comparison. Joint military and civilian forces searched every vehicle, backpack and purse coming onto or departing the grounds. By the 3rd month of the conflict the powers-that-be in Washington had decided that Yuma was too far removed from them for effective control. The result was that the rotation of air wings through the Marine training base was halted. With that action the divided loyalties of the command staff were effectively laid aside and the business of maintaining the facilities took precedence over any arguments about whether the owed their allegiance to the Commander-in-Chief and her directives, or to the defense of the American lands from a foreign invader, no matter that said invader was ostensibly present at the behest of said CiC. Without actual air wings present who could be rallied and sortied there wasn’t much point in worrying about having to refuse to train pilots and crews for possible missions aimed at their fellow countrymen.

    In eastern Canada the socialists held sway. The result was a tightening of border controls and the turning back of Americans seeking to flee the states with common borders with Quebec and Ontario. Tourism was dieing rapidly, as were local economies. In Ottawa there were cries for active support for the new Washington crowd, the better to end the fighting and set matters of economics back on track as far as they were concerned.

    The western provinces, however, where most held the eastern crowd in no little disdain, saw local economies flourishing with their own smuggling efforts. Minor fortunes were being made in the trafficking of scarce foodstuffs, electronics and medications. Seniors, who for years had relied upon Canadian pharmacies for cost savings on needed medications, now relied on them as the only reliable source, price be damned.

    An organized effort was underway in several hospitals across the country, ranging in size from McGovern County General (21 patient capacity on a good day) to major medical centers with over 400 active beds. Instruments from procedure packs were being studiously salvaged, cleaned, and forwarded to central points where they were further examined for flaws, sterilized, repacked, and sent out to Rebel supply depots.

    Small single-use bottles of Betadine Solution, surgical soap and irrigation solutions of normal saline as well as sterile water were salvaged before the other items were consigned to the trash bin. Day Surgery units, ERs and Urgent Care clinics, Critical, Cardiac and Intensive Care Units were sources of small mountains of materials previously destined for the trash. Via careful networking by a Float Nurse at one of the largest of the involved centers in the matter of a month no less than 391 pounds of usable items otherwise slated for disposal were secretively salvaged, collected, and forwarded.

    Of particular interest were vials of Lidocaine, used to effect local anesthesia, which came as part of the contents of central IV line insertion packs and lumbar puncture trays. These were normally tossed following the procedure as the docs, interns and PA’s routinely used multi-dose bottles. The medication was cheap, costing less than 90 cents for a 25 milliliter bottle through the normal supply chain, so there was no reason to rely on the provided vials when the procedure routinely called for a couple cc’s more than the vial contained to begin with, as was the common practice. Even if not it was a matter of habit, never mind that a lot of people hated messing with the snap top glass ampoules. There were some 211 two and five cc vials in that batch alone.

    The instruments were anything but top grade, and no few were tossed before being passed along further. Quality control wasn’t always what it was supposed to be and sometimes the teeth on mosquito clamps and Adson forceps were dull or misaligned, and so-called Derf needle holders were often flat-faced rather than toothed as they would be with a better quality clamp.

    The remainder found their way to forward units, rear area aid stations and the few MASH-type units that had been established. Use them up, wear them out and throw them away was the philosophy of the day. It wasn’t so much a question of operating on a budget as it was whether or not needed items could be found at any cost. It wasn’t as if Randall Surgical Supply was going to ship a case of premium quality German instruments worth fourteen thousand of dollars to the North Carolina Mobile Surgical Corps care of a general delivery address at a one-window rural post office.

    The supply chain was still in its infancy, but it was growing as American ingenuity came into play.

    Dateline: Iowa Army Ammunition Plant

    Production was continuing until virtually the last minute. There was very little hesitation on the part of those who ran the plant when it came to deciding between continuing to fulfill a federal contract, and thus feed a military force acting decidedly against the interests of the country as a whole, or dismantling production and relocating elsewhere. The one dissenter amongst the senior management was the same individual who tipped off Washington that their munitions supply was at risk, prompting the move to take over the plant and secure it.

    In a rare moment of efficiency the Union Pacific had managed to have a train depart the yard on time. What couldn’t be explained by corporate brass was what happened later. Officially the cars of munitions were headed east, towards a federal depot in Virginia where agents of the DoD would accept them. They had been properly inventoried, manifested and the cars sealed pending arrival at the final destination.

    When last seen the affected rail stock was safely tucked between ordinary freight cars fore and aft, a standard safety precaution in the extremely unlikely event that the train would be either run into by another, or run into something larger than lose livestock or a stalled vehicle. The UP had trackage rights to a route which would take them directly to the Chicago yards, where the sensitive materials would be transferred to stockage pulled by the Soo Line until it, too, ran out of trackage and transferred the vans yet again to another pull heading farther east. It seemed complicated but that was the rail system. Long hauls frequently required a series of transfers from one company to another, all arranged via interchange agreements.

    In the instance of this last vital shipment, however, there was an unscheduled stop along the way; a little -used siding was exploited in a semi-remote part of the Illinois countryside. A string of stock, which included the munitions vans, was decoupled, separated from the main, pulled by an improvised yard engine (actually a wheels to rail equipped truck) and decoupled again. Counterfeit cars were pulled from the siding and pushed up to join the purloined munitions cars. The separated line was then pushed far enough to decouple the cars being hijacked before being pulled back onto the main once more and then rejoined to the original train which then proceeded once again without discernable (for the railroad) delay. Truthfully, normal rail operations involved enough slack time that it was difficult to determine whenever anything less than an hour on a long haul had been lost. Identical placards were placed on the affected cars were duplicated on the counterfeits. No one would know differently until the pull arrived in the Chicago area at the very earliest, if not until it arrived in Virginia. By then it would have already changed crews at least once if not several times, depending when the theft was discovered.

    The hijacked cars were offloaded onto a convoy of waiting trucks and the cargo spirited south to Kentucky for further dispersal. The now-abandoned vans would cause a great deal of embarrassment for company officials in Omaha, which thought displeased the rank and file ‘roadies nary the least. To a man the ‘roadies involved in the heist disappeared immediately afterwards. The yardies left behind had joined with the Rebel forces bent on denying the plant long enough to allow critical dismantling and salvage of equipment that couldn’t be easily duplicated in short order at the new, more secure site to the west.

    The preparations for the coming defense were progressing rapidly. The local law authority, not entirely unsympathetic to the cause, did little to hinder the inflow of men and materials through various back door routes. Officially they were to halt the movement outward of war materials, but as was seen with the rail diversion the barrier between legitimate and illicit movements was difficult to discern. Not to mention it could be hazardous if they pressed too hard.

    The ingenuity of the erstwhile defenders was limited only by their imaginations. A fake minefield was planted along one likely avenue of approach. A simple one-row plow was commandeered from a nearby farmstead to plow a strip roughly 60 feet wide. Within the turned earth were planted “mines” consisting of vertical wires stuck in small hillocks, intended to be barely discernable as they would have been were they legitimate. For all appearances they resembled an amateurish attempt to plant so-called ‘Bouncing Betty’ type antipersonnel mines. After much cussing and arm flinging a pair of low order explosives were placed near the leading edge, their zone of coverage extended by carefully concealed tripwires in order that they be more likely to be activated by the front of an assault. The reasoning was that a couple of real explosions would lend credence to the fake minefield, dissuading further attempts to use that approach route and thus freeing up forces for other more vulnerable areas.

    No one with any sense really expected that the hasty force would carry the day. They intended only a holding action that would allow the salvage of as much material and equipment as may prove practical. After that a tactical withdrawal was in order.

    That was the plan as it was understood by those involved. Unfortunately, as was oft stated by a certain notable Generalfeldmarschall of 1940’s Wermacht fame, no plan survives initial contact with the enemy.

    End Chapter XV Part V
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  21. #61
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    Chapter XV Part VI

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    The little farmhouse was a blur of activity. Andrea knew she needed to act quickly and definitively – Leadfoot’s very survival could ultimately depend upon it. More likely he’d lose the leg if she couldn’t treat the complications that resulted from his wounding. Quite possibly - but that wasn’t guaranteed - if he’d been able to rest the leg the complications wouldn’t have developed to begin with. That, though, was all water under the bridge. What had been done was past, now it was time to look to the immediate future.

    Ruth had delivered the warm water as requested and was now busy boiling another larger pot. Andrea used the first pot to wash herself thoroughly, from fingertips to elbows. The simple expedient of having a second person pour the water over her arms sufficed in the absence of a proper washing faucet. Once she was clean she donned a pair of purple nitrile gloves and began to clean up Leadfoot’s leg, the better see what was visible from the outside. There was also the matter of foreign material. Lacking as she was much in the way of supplies common soap and water would have to do.

    Leadfoot was gritting his teeth throughout, doing his best not to yell. It was easy to see that the pain was almost overwhelming. Andrea thought to herself that she couldn’t blame him. As best she was able to determine the long bones were not fractured. The leg was swollen and the skin taut enough to be shiny even in its reddened state. The toes barely moved even with what was an obviously seriously effort on Leadfoot’s part. Light touch elicited pain; a firm touch brought a significant increase.

    “Wish I had a tuning fork about now,” she mumbled under her breath.

    She had a small audience gathered around her and her patient. One of the girls watching – Andrea hadn’t learned yet to identify them by voice – asked “Ma’am?”

    “What… oh, sorry. I was just talking to myself.” Then thinking she’d better explain lest they start to think fatigue was overtaking her, added, “If I had a tuning fork I could check for fractures, uhh, I mean broken bones. It’s simple but it works.”
    The explanation obviously only served to confuse the girls, and she glanced over at Belloc he raised a questioning eyebrow in return.

    “Okay, I see I’ve lost everyone. I strike a tuning fork and place it here” she indicated, pointing to the head of the lower leg where the bone ran close to the surface, “and listen with my stethoscope here,” indicating the area around the ankle. “Solid bone transmits the vibration neatly, a fractured bone dulls it. When you don’t have a handy x-ray unit you use what works.” Belloc nodded in understanding while the girls filed the information for later elaboration, Sara in particular.

    “What do you think is going on then?” Belloc asked.

    Never glancing up from her detailed inspection Andrea answered: “Compartment syndrome. One of the pellets seems to have penetrated lengthwise up the leg – here,” she indicated, pointing. “Ordinarily it’d be painful but not that much of a problem since shotguns are low velocity weapons. The cavitation caused by the projectile, in this case a round lead or steel pellet of approximately .28 or .36 caliber, is much less then a high velocity projectile, such as a rifle bullet, causes.”

    “You said ordinarily. Does that mean you think he was hit by a boosted round?”

    “No, I think that it caused bleeding, as we’d expect. But in this case the frequent use of the leg for the clutch caused the muscles to contract hard, repeatedly, stopping the bleeding from exiting. With no place to go it started to accumulate within the muscle layers. Once a good clot formed that was all she wrote as far as the normal pressure relief.” Turning to face Leadfoot she addressed him.

    “Tell me what medications you take regularly.”

    “None a t’all. Don’t believe in ‘em.” He grimaced a bit as another spasm traveled through his leg, momentarily building upon the intense pain already present on a constant basis.

    “How about herbs, supplements, vitamins, that sort of thing?”

    “None a them, not a one. I drink orange, grape, apple juices, eat my veggies; I stay healthy” was the reply.

    Andrea looked thoughtful for a moment, and then tried another direction of query. “Tell me what you’ve had to eat lately. Anything besides meat and vegetables? Anything unusual?”

    “Dunno what’d you call unusual. Like Chinese food, been eating a lot at a place there’n ‘ttumwa. Coupla-three times a week. Hit the buffet pretty good.” His head stretched back as yet another wave of pain momentarily overtook him.

    “Aaaahhhh!!! Damn! That one hurt! Kin we swap recipes some other time and get to workin? I don’ mean to complain and all but I’m laying here half nekked and you wanna talk chow.”

    “Bear with me, Leadfoot. There’s a reason for my asking. Do you eat a lot of Chinese food with ginger in it?”

    “Yeah, sometimes. They got a ginger chickun what’s purdy damn good. Uhh, sorry. Don’t mean ta be a cussin in front of the girls.”

    Andrea nodded to herself. Belloc picked up on the motion. “Something to that?”
    Andrea responded with an affirmative nod. “Yes. Ginger can improve blood flow by relaxing the muscles that surround the vessels. In the case of our friend here it can also cause increased bleeding as a result.”

    “Sooo, what do we do now” Belloc asked.

    “The same thing as before, with a few added precautions. At least we have an idea what contributed to the injury. What’s done is done, now we have to correct it.”

    Belloc risked a cautionary question, fearing the answer. “And, that means…”
    Andrea sighed deeply before answering. “That means I hope that call went through and the other party it was intended for responds very quickly.” She paused for a moment, and then continued, this time directing her statements at her patient.

    “Ahh, Leadfoot. I might as well be direct with you. I don’t believe in lying to my patients. There is a chance you could lose the leg. There is also a chance, much, much smaller though, that you could lose your life. And that would only be if a lot of things all went wrong over a period of days.”

    “I’m listenin’.” was Leadfoot’s only response.

    “In order to relieve the pressure, and by doing so give you a chance to save your leg, I need to make incisions in the muscles, find the clotted area, and relieve it so that you have more or less normal blood flow to your lower leg again. In doing so you’ll be at risk of infection from the incisions themselves. On the other hand, I’m not a surgeon, not a doctor. I’ve never done this before, or anything remotely like it. And” she paused for a moment to catch her breath and gather her thoughts, “and, I don’t half the tools I need to do this properly. They’re on the truck you were driving. Which is still we have no idea how far away yet.”

    She paused for a moment, than added, “And to be even more honest, I’m basing all of this on my best guess. I ‘could’ be sure if I had a few simple items, but I don’t. Like I said, they’re all on the truck. Judging from the timeframe since the injury itself, and the delay between then and the onset of the worsening symptoms, I’d say we’ve got a couple of hours at best to take care of your problem before it becomes permanent.”

    Just as she was saying this there was another commotion outside. Karl had gone back outside with some of the others, taking Rick with him so they could identify the vehicle accompanying the supply truck when it arrived, lest they startle the “older couple” Rick mentioned were running interference for the truck. The last thing Karl figured they needed now was a heart attack caused by armed men coming out of the ditches and trees as they pulled into the drive.

    Now Karl came bounding up to the porch. “That guy Rick says the convoy is here, just coming over the rise. The lead car flashed what he said was the recognition signal they’d agreed on when they parted company a few hours ago.”

    Andrea looked up sharply at the news. The look of relief on her face was unmistakable. “Thank God.”

    Leadfoot stirred, seeking a more comfortable position. “Tell ‘um to unload the blankets and pillows first. This pad ain’t ‘zactly a waterbed. And it’s gittin downright chilly in here.”

    At this pronouncement Sara moved to grab the quilt that had been brought along with the sleeping tick. Standing over Leadfoot, holding it in her hands, she looked questioningly at Andrea.

    “Go ahead and cover him but take care to leave the leg out. The added weight wouldn’t help his comfort level any.” Sara nodded in understanding and proceeded to tuck the quilted comforter around their latest patient. She seemed relieved in her own right to be able to cover the near-nakedness of the man stretched out before them.

    Taking charge once more Andrea stood up, and conscious she was breaking asepsis placed her balled hands on her hips. Taking a deep breath she began to deliver instructions.

    “I need our patient here moved into the kitchen area. There’s going to be a lot of people moving through here shortly, and once I start working it has to be non-stop until we’re finished. Karl, please assist the girls with the move, and make sure he’s placed to the side away from the counter area.”

    Karl responded with a definite “Right away.” The girls followed his lead, and between them they managed to manhandle the pallet and it’s load through the narrow doorway without spilling Leadfoot onto the floor.

    While this was going on Andrea made her way outside to await the much-delayed supply truck and escort. The Wagoneer lead the now 2-vehicle convoy, the semi tractor and trailer a short distance behind. Andrea was relieved once again that the farmstead was sufficiently remote from others in the area that the increased noise level and activity wouldn’t be noticed, especially this time of night when a delivery truck would be an oddity.

    Charlotte exited the vehicle first, smoothing out her traveling dress as she proceeded to walk towards Andrea, then hesitating as she saw unfamiliar faces exiting from the house. She had not yet noticed the extra bodies coming up the drive from the roadway, having seen only Rick there to give them an all clear wave in.

    Andrea saw the surprise register and her face and hastened to intervene before Charlotte’s surprise caused her to say something that might prove untoward. “You have no idea how glad I am to see you, Auntie. I already had another patient before Leadfoot arrived, and there are more just down the road that will be here any minute. We can discuss all that later. Right now I need things off the truck, and I mean right now. For Leadfoot” she added in quick explanation.

    “Oh dear. Oh, An… umm, Irene. I’m so sorry. There wasn’t any direct way to get word to you, not yet. How is he doing?”

    “They only arrived a half hour ago. There were delays but we’re okay. But we’ve got to hurry. You were right to send him on. Give me a couple of minutes to get things going and we’ll talk.” Charlotte nodded in affirmation.

    Turning her attention to Raymond, who’d walked over to join the other two, she addressed him. “Uncle Roy,” at which his eyebrows arched in response, “the whole situation has changed, mostly for the better. I have one other patient already, and more coming in a few minutes. But Leadfoot is our primary concern. I need supplies off the truck as fast as you can get them. Faster, even.” Turning to indicate the machine shed past the house she waved with her right arm. “If you’ll see that the truck is pulled over there we have hands ready to help unload. I need every box of supplies you can find, forget the big stuff. I also need light and a lot of it.”

    Recovering from his own surprise at being addressed as ‘Uncle Roy’ Raymond nodded. “Okay, we can do that. What’re you needing right off besides light?”

    Andreas spoke quickly, her mouth forming words as fast as she could form a list in her mind. “I need the toolbox I had you pick up, there’s a box labeled INSTRUMENTS somewhere on the truck, another labeled PHARM – there are several and I forget which one so I’ll have to look through them, or Auntie Charlene can.” Again Raymond’s eyebrows rose at the new form of referring to his sister, but immediately understood that Andrea was trying to provide a modicum of cover for them in front of the strangers now gathered around them.

    “There should be some Coleman lanterns on there. I’ll need at least 2; three would be better. And fuel, of course. They don’t have to be full, just enough for a couple of hours will work for now. There’s another box about yay big,” she indicated with spread hands, “that should be labeled DIAGNOSTIC #2.” I need that as soon as I have light. If you run across any gloves I’ll need them too but they aren’t critical.”

    “Then, after all of that, I need IV fluids along with the tubings and things. I’ll need cots set up downstairs in the room to the right – there’s another patient in there already, by the way – and upstairs in one of the outer rooms. Bedding for the cots, and I’m not sure what else. When the other patients get here we’ll just have to see. I’ll be busy so you’ll have to make do with the hands you have available. Auntie Charlene can help them settle in.”

    Raymond was all eyes and ears now, taking everything in while listening closely. He made a mental note of the extra hands gathered around the small group. Rick he recognized of course. Of the others he assumed, hoping he was right, that at least one was a local contact, perhaps several. But the 3 figures in fatigues didn’t calculate properly into that scenario. And the young ladies he took to be Amish or Mennonite by their manner of dress certainly weren’t part of the local network, something he made a mental note to explore further as soon as possible.

    Dateline: Kentucky/Tennessee Area

    0500 hours! Echoing through the woods came the call of a wild land bird. Unheard in the immediate vicinity of the main force of Rebels were identical calls in other parts of the park. Other than the warbling sounds there were no others to be heard save for the whisper of the early morning breeze in the upper reaches of the tulip poplars.

    A keen observer would have noticed what appeared to be indistinct forms materializing out of the haze. Forms that moved with deliberate care and stealth. A ragged line of earth tones and blurred shapes that moved like wraiths.

    Roadways were sealed off or placed under immediate observation. The motor pool, considered the main objective because of the Giat armored vehicles stored there, as well as the largest concentration of UN personnel, was carefully surrounded on all four sides. Nate directed his men using hand signals to urge them on. A hand waved in the air signaled when they were in position at their assigned locations.

    Now, to wait while the other contingents around the park reached their objectives. A pair of lone sentries patrolled the inner fence, oblivious to the frantic activity outside their view in the false dawn.

    A battery-powered bullhorn was included in the preparations. Its inclusion had been strenuously argued against but Nate had been adamant: “we are better than they are. They will be given a fair chance to surrender without harm. If they resist, then, and only then, do we open up, not before. If they fight we will give them everything we have. They have squad level weapons but we’ve got an abundance of sharpshooters who can pick the eye out of a sparrow at 50 paces, and hit the round end of a beer can at 200. They can’t run far – they’ve seen to that themselves. They won’t be able to hide, not from this bunch.” At the time his statement was greeted with laughs, the gathered assembly recognizing all too well that the perimeter limitations of the main compound would serve to both contain the opposing forces and limit their movement. Some went so far as to declare that the assault would be over as quickly as it began, with one volley all that would be needed before any blue hats with ideas of resisting permanently dissuaded.

    Towards Nashville the faux protest group was awake and gathering. 53 women were due to board the erstwhile tour bus. More were slated to meet them at the capitol grounds. Throughout the city itself nearly 100 men were moving into their own assigned positions, intending to support the “protest” and supply the necessary muscle once the official forces realized what they were facing. Governor Cyrus didn’t know it, but today his reign of corruption was about to come to an abrupt end.

    The protesters held no misconceptions about what they were embarking upon. They knew full well that too many members of the police forces, whether state, county or city, were tucked deeply into the pocket of ‘Del’ Cyrus and his cronies. Favors doled out begot favors in return. Traffic tickets were taken care of, public intoxication was overlooked, recalcitrant teen family members would be quietly deposited on doorsteps over and over, and any evidence of their lawlessness either covered up or blamed on a convenient bystander. Traffic accidents might be investigated with an eye towards placing the fault at the feet of other involved parties who did not fall under the all-covering umbrella of Party protection.

    It was likely that not everyone would return to their homes once the planned takeover was completed. Considering what some of these people had lost already – family members, friends, homes, and businesses and in some cases their own good health – they had to a person determined that the time to stand up for what was right had come to pass.

    The plan was to overwhelm the Capitol building before it was realized they were doing so. Members would be salted through the normal daily crowd in order to flank the security forces before they recognized any threat existed. The plan was to create commotion, confusion, and upon receiving a prearranged signal, disarm as many of the security forces as possible before any real fighting erupted. The ultimate objective was Governor Cyrus himself.

    End Chapter XV Part VI
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

    http://medtech.syrene.net/forum/

    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  22. #62
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    Chapter XV Part VII

    Dateline: Virginia Aid Station

    “I know my rights! You have to give me pain medicine! I demand you give me my medicine, right now!”

    “Shut the hell up you damn junky! We’re sick of you!” The speaker, a former Army sergeant first class whose retirement years had been interrupted by the recent unpleasantness that was sweeping the land had just about reached the end of his rope where the screaming civilian was concerned. All the man did was yell about his ‘rights’ and how he was being abused.

    The disruptive patient was a recent addition to the aid station’s populace. Not a combatant, he had been scooped up with others when he presented himself to the medics treating wounded at the scene of an ambush. Two rebels had been killed outright, several more wounded before the platoon-strength column had managed to extricate itself and move to cover. No one with the Rebels knew who was, but he’d complained that he’d been wounded by the blast wave of a mortar round. Thinking that he was an innocent casualty who happened to be in the area, and thus probably prone to guilt by association for merely being found in the proximity of the Rebel platoon he’d been loaded along with the others on makeshift transport and taken for treatment.

    Several things quickly became evident. First, the man had sustained no wounds aside from several contusions and abrasions that could as easily have been caused by falling backwards down a couple of steps. He was dirty, unkempt, in need of a bath and fresh clothes and had all the patience of a hungry bear in search of food next to a tourist resort. He was manipulative, knew his way around the medical establishment, and knew what he wanted. The problem was, everything he wanted didn’t seem to be what he needed, was in short supply, and was straining the limited resources of his hapless caregivers.

    He did have an infected area on his low right back. Randy had dutifully incised and drained it of nearly 40 cc’s of infected fluids. Has the situation been different and he’d had the resources of a real hospital he’d have collected a specimen for lab study. His opinion was that it’d probably test positive for MRSA [methicillin resistant staph aureus], and probably came to be as a result of what Randy strongly suspected was a regular meth habit by the patient. Seeing as he was already there, had been found in the immediate vicinity of an action, and did have a medical condition - albeit not one apparently combat related – the general feeling was they had no choice but to provide treatment for several days and then send him on his way.

    “Has he been given anything,” Randy asked the duty nurse for the ward.

    “Ibuprofen, 800 mg.” She shrugged her shoulders as if to say what more does he expect.

    “I’m beginning to think he ought to be limited to a pair of aspirin tablets myself,” Randy muttered.

    “Huh. Be a waste of good medicine you ask me” the nurse replied before turning to tend to a dressing change awaiting her attention.

    The troublemaker had caught sight of Randy at the other end of the tent, not that it was that far away, separated as they were by only the space required to set up 3 cots. “Doctor! You’ve got to help me. No one’s giving me anything. Man, I HURT!”
    Randy was tempted to ignore the man but something inside of him said no, he needed to address the issue.

    “I’m sorry but medications are in short supply here. We have to do with what we can get."

    “You got Dilaudid, I know it. I saw her,” he stated, indicating the nurse who was now bent over a leg wound on the other side of the ward, “giving that guy some. Heard her tell him what it was.”

    “That’s right,” Randy barked back, “we have a limited supply, as I said. That man over there” he waved his arm at, “was wounded in battle trying to defend his country from a foreign invader. His actions were honorable and we owe him whatever we can provide to ease his pain and speed his recovery.”

    “I was wounded too” the man crowed loudly. I was there, I seen it, them mortar bombs was a dropping all over. One of them got me, like I done told you. You seen it, it got me in the back when I was trying to crawl forward to get a better shot.”

    “My understanding it that you weren’t part of the group that was hit, that you just showed up as they were trying to load the wounded. No one has a clue as to who you are or where you came from.” Randy was beginning to grow hot under the collar at the man’s attempt to associate himself with the real soldiers who were defending their country.

    “They’re lying! I was part of the local militia; we got hit too. I got separated from the others when they ran off and left me for dead. Now give me some Dilaudid! The pain is intense, man, I’m telling you. Those damn pills are worthless!”

    The other patients were stirring angrily. They could see the pleas of the man for what they were, a common junky seeking to pass himself off as a defender solely for the purpose of getting a fix. They’d all heard the stories of how time after time pharmacies were being found looted of all controlled substances, even the lower grade stuff that normally didn’t interest the street crowd because it didn’t provide enough buzz. Bad enough the country was fighting for its very life without a bunch of junkies adding to the mess.

    Randy made a sudden, unexpected move, even from his own perspective. Crossing the intervening space in 5 determined steps he reached out and put his hand on the man’s chest, pushing him down from the semi-upright position he’d assumed by leaning on his elbows.

    “Now you listen to me and listen good if you know what’s best for you. I’ve been here for 2 months now, sewing up boys who haven’t grown their first whiskers, women who should be home baking cookies and watching their kids play soccer, and old men who have high blood pressure, arthritic knees, cholesterol levels that would stagger a horse, and hard won scars from wars from before you were born. I’ve set bones, open bellies and closed them, debrided burns, performed IV cut downs and more. I sleep in a tent on a pile of cardboard boxes, work 18-20 hours a day, eat chow that makes what they serve you look gourmet, am lucky to have an ice cold Coke once a week, don’t get paid and have no idea if my girlfriend is alive or dead, and you… you have the NERVE to lay there and pretend to be in the same class as these other men and women, whining about a self-inflicted boil caused by your own damn stupidity!”

    Randy was really worked up, and he was physically restraining a patient in front of others. And he didn’t care. He was fatigued, running on coffee and a 20 minute nap snatched in between 9 hours in the OR and making rounds that began 3 hours ago, and all of that after a total of 7 hours of sleep that past 3 days.

    According to the norms of the outside medical community he was being unprofessional at best, and brooking misconduct and assault charges should anyone care to take him to task, and he just plain did not care right now.

    “You tell him, doc!” came a supporting shout from the retired sergeant. Every eye in the place was on randy and the loudmouthed jerk. The nurse – Sheryl – didn’t say a word. Randy was merely giving vent to what she herself had been thinking since she first encountered the imposter.

    The whiner was silent in the face of the verbal barrage he had just received. Silent, but not cowed. He glowered at Randy, clearly unwilling to admit any wrongdoing on his own part. It was easy to see by his expression that he had no intention of giving in. He knew how to play the game, or so he thought.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    Hardly had the semi been pulled over to the machine shed than the converted motor home and its escort vehicle returned. Semi-chaos now ensued as more people were added to the mix, hurried introductions made, and assignments of the new patients been decided upon. Diane would be segregated upstairs in the room immediately before the one now serving as the dormitory for the girls. Darnell, non-ambulatory due to his leg wound, downstairs with the wounded Guardsman. Tyler and Dan would also go upstairs in the other room to the right of the stairway.

    While this was being decided upon Andrea was almost frantic in her preparations for the surgery she was about to perform. She had only to gather the needed items before she could begin and her anxiety was growing as time slowly ticked by. First was more light. Charlotte was hastily charged with seeing to the placement of the new arrivals while Andrea went to dig through her Blazer. She habitually carried a pair of 3-cell Maglights, and part of her load brought from home had been a pair of oil lamps. They were intended to be low tech back-ups but for now, until they found the Coleman lanterns, and later got the genset going and electric light, they would be all they’d have to work by in the house besides her little Peak-1 and a few flashlights retrieved from the other vehicles.

    Ruth busied herself putting the little camp stove to use, heating coffee and trying to bring together some semblance of a modest dinner for the recently arrived company. There was little to work with as yet, mostly what the girls had brought with them. Fortunately they had followed their farm-borne traditions and been overly generous when they packed. Hungry travelers would welcome the remaining pie, sandwiches and more.

    “That box there, I need it inside.” Andrea was becoming almost frantic as the clock ticked down for Leadfoot’s leg. The items she needed were scattered hither and yon, packed in no semblance of order but rather wherever they fit in the tightly loaded trailer. So far she had found some of the basic instruments, which filled a relatively small, compact plastic tote. They’d unloaded a dozen cans of Coleman fuel but no lanterns. Right now they were faced with a wall of stacked military cots and related items, which included clamp-on IV poles, foam mattresses and tubs of linens and pillows more or less intended to go with the cots. The cots could and would be put to good use yet this night, but for the time being they were not a priority find.

    Over on the left wall were stacked the sacks of feed supplement used to disguise the back end of the load. They’d served their purpose and were now just so much extraneous material. The Squealer brand truck had served its purpose, but with the cover for that emblem blown, and Leadfoot no longer a viable member of the public group, they would have to find another use.

    Beside them was a growing stack of material, set aside as the truck was unloaded as quickly as human hands could affect the task. Cargo too heavy to be easily manhandled was shoved towards the rear doors and set to either side, leaving a working pathway through which to carry smaller or lighter items. It was Andrea’s fear that the much-needed equipment would be located towards the front end of the truck, several hours of hard work away from the open rear.

    “Hey, lend a hand here. I think there’re more boxes behind this stack.” Belloc was working as hard, if not harder, than anyone else present. In his mind had Andrea not already nearly exhausted her meager cache on his man she’d have what she needed for Leadfoot. Not that he regretted coming here, only that his needs had forestalled addressing the requirements of another patriot who had already risked so much to make this oasis of safety possible.

    Karl was there immediately, adding his own muscle to the effort. Behind the wall of cots had been another bulwark built from blue plastic 16-gallon square transport barrels that held kerosene for appliances not yet uncovered. Between the two of them they grunted and toiled and tore down the intervening stack, pushing them rearward where they could be offloaded and set aside. Wendell was quickly recruited to climb over the rapidly decreasing stack since he was the most slender of those present, save for Andrea herself.

    “I found something! Grab these as I pass them back.” Wendell managed to nab a plastic tote and lifted it straight up by dint of shear determination, fighting against the press of other totes stacked around it. “Here, I think this is one of the ones we’re looking for.”

    Passed back hand to hand in bucket brigade fashion was the first tote, labeled PHARMS, while Wendell busied himself digging out another one to lift over the now chest-high wall of stacked barrels. Andrea had gone back into the house to check yet again on her patients, and not coincidentally, to take her mind off of the passage of precious time.

    “Here, Rick. Run this up to the house and come back. Hopefully there’ll be more by then.” Rick just nodded at Raymond, who was at the end of the line, and who puffed as he passed off the 40-odd pound tote. “I’m not as young as I used to be, that’s for sure,” Raymond thought to himself.

    Rick dutifully ran the tote over as quickly as practical, stumbling every few yards as he passed over unfamiliar ground in the dark, the light coming from the front door his only guide. Behind him eight men sweated and toiled in a frantic race.

    Before he could return from his errand one of the Guardsmen came running with yet another tote box. Rick didn’t pause but instead dogtrotted back to the shed. There he found a growing stack of totes with various labels, including IV, INSTRUMENTS 2, DIAGNOSTIC 2, ANTIS, DISINFECT and more. He tried to grab up two of them then quickly set them back down. “These suckers are heavy!” he thought to himself. Taking the top one he made another stumbling run to the house, the Guardsman passing by the other way. Behind him he could hear more footsteps as someone else began another shuttle run.

    Inside the commandeered kitchen *** operating room Andrea was tearing lids off of the totes already present and quickly searching the contents, setting aside anything she thought she might need. A basic set of instruments was being assembled. They weren’t sterile but for the moment she wasn’t worried about that. It had never occurred to her that they would be needed immediately upon arrival, that she wouldn’t have time to sort and sterilize and package them.

    Leadfoot watched through pain-glazed eyes as she took a 10” tall tote and upended it, spilling its contents in the corner. She set the now empty tote to one side and began tossing an assortment of instruments inside, seemingly at random. As she did so Carol, the RN who’d accompanied the patients from Virginia, came on the scene.

    “Irene? Is there anything I can do to help?”

    Barely pausing to look over her shoulder in order to identify the speaker Andrea continued her frantic search. “How familiar are you with compartment syndrome?”

    “I know what it is, in general. I’ve never seen a case; I’ve never worked a surgical unit. At least, not before I connected with the aid station back east. Is that what you’re dealing with here?”

    Pausing long enough to brush back a loose strand of hair Andrea looked over at the patiently waiting Leadfoot. “I believe so, yes. I won’t know for sure until I’ve performed a compartment pressure test. And I can’t find the damned supplies!”

    Startled by her own exclamation Andrea, and the potential effect her demeanor might have on her waiting patient she immediately regretted her selfish outburst. On the other side of the kitchen Ruth busied herself with the food preparations.

    “I’m sorry. I’m just overly stressed right now.” Andrea’s look was sincerely apologetic.

    “S’all right, ma’am,” Leadfoot responded. “Yuh just took a mighty big load on yerself without knowin’ it. Heck, none of us did for that matter. Couln’t be no way anyone would be knowin’ things would start off like this, nosirree.”

    Carol, who was herself more than a bit road wearied and so understood Andrea’s frustration all too well, saw what she had to do.

    “Irene,” she said, placing a hand on Andrea’s shoulder, “no nurse that I have ever known has ever faced challenges like these. But these aren’t normal times and this isn’t General Hospital. No one is going to write you up or call you to the carpet. Tell me what we’re looking for and let me help. I’m not a scrub nurse by training but I’ve had my share of experience lately.”

    “You’re right,” Andrea said. “We’ll make more progress by working together.” Carol just nodded in agreement.

    “Okay, first I need to build a pressure monitor to determine if indeed my diagnosis is correct. For that I’m going to need a mercury column manometer, a 20 cc syringe, a pair of extension tubes, a couple 18-gauge needles, a 3-way stopcock, and a bottle of normal saline. Right now any size from a saline flush on up will do.”

    “Meantime I also need something to soak the instruments in disinfectant-wise. We don’t have time to properly sterilize things so that will have to work.” Carol indicated her understanding, her eyes glancing around at the growing group of totes still waiting to be searched.

    “What else will you need?” she asked.

    Andrea began to tick off a list on her fingers. “Sterile gloves, normal saline or Ringer’s solution – in quantity whichever it is – an IV set, sterile drapes, an irrigation tray, an assortment of syringes and needles for nerve blocks and aspiration, Lidocaine 1 or 2%, a cot to raise the patient off the floor to a decent working height, pillows to make him comfortable, and a couple to position the leg with, and light, lots of light.”

    Carol responded at the same time she headed for one of the totes. “Right, I’m on it.”

    In the next 5 minutes 3 more totes were delivered and between Carol and Andrea they tore through everything present. Ken was detailed to bring back one of the cots for Leadfoot, along with the requested pillows, on his next trip over. In the same time they found the IV solutions and sets, enough syringes and needles to piece together what they’d need, and a glutaraldehyde-based disinfectant in which the instruments were now soaking before being rinsed thoroughly with sterile solution and laid out on an improvised sterile field created by using the paper wraps from a couple of disposable procedure trays.

    Her personal bag also retrieved from the other room Andrea dug into the remaining contents. The bottle of Lidocaine, the Valium, IV catheters and her start kit. By now Charlotte had joined them after seeing that the new arrivals had been temporarily settled. Despite all of her years as a floor nurse the planned procedure was well beyond her skills. But she knew how to nurse and her bedside manner was a match for anyone’s.

    Giving Leadfoot a knowing wink she knelt on the floor beside him, pulling the gathered IV supplies to herself. “Hey there big boy, how’s about ol’ ‘Charlene’ pokes you with this little ol’ needle and gets some fluids going.” Leadfoot just nodded.

    Deft hands honed by thousands of sticks quickly gained access on the posterior aspect of his left forearm. It was quickly secured with tape chevrons followed by cross strips. “I have the line in, Irene,” she announced.

    Andrea was quick to reply. “Good. Now give him 5 mg of Diazepam and let’s see if we can get him more comfortable. I’m almost ready, just as soon as we find a stopcock.”

    “Is Valium going to be the only anesthetic?” Charlotte asked somewhat worriedly.

    “No, I’m going to use a Christian dose of Lidocaine. It won’t work on the deeper muscles but it’s a start. Now that the truck is here I have access to the other meds, or will. We’ll medicate as we go the best we can.”

    Just then one of the guardsmen – Wendell she thought but Andrea didn’t look up to be sure – brought a sealed box labeled MEDS and set it down. Carol grabbed it immediately, whipped out a Swiss Army knife from her pocket and cut the sealing tape. Once thus opened she dove into it. “Wee! Good stuff” she exclaimed after a moment. With that she held up a small bundle of clear plastic tubes with Tubex loads inside of them. “This is, ummm…”

    “It should be Dilaudid” Andrea replied. “If so I want 2 mgs on board, along with 25 mg of Phenergan. Have another 2 mgs standing by as well. But don’t break the seal yet, just in case.”

    Carol dug deeper into the box, coming up a short time later with a plastic tackle box labeled Phenergan. Inside were a dozen bottles of the medication. In addition to its other properties Phenergan was useful for potentiating narcotics, which was Andrea’s intention. The Valium would relax Leadfoot, the Dilaudid ease his pain, and the Phenergan increase the effectiveness of the Dilaudid. For an ordinary person not otherwise in pain the combination would have made for a very restful night’s sleep. Andrea doubted that Leadfoot would experience more than a buzz equal to a few beers.

    “Pull out another bottle of Lidocaine, too.”

    Lidocaine, okay. I’m still digging” Carol responded.

    Things were coming together rapidly now. The cot was brought in and an IV pole clamped onto the far side. Gentle hands lifted the now semi-sedate Leadfoot onto it, though not without considerable pain to the afflicted limb. Charlotte once more prepped the limb for the procedure, this time with the aid of a small bottle of Betadyne Scrub and some sterile sponges. The leg was propped up with a pillow, sans any cover, under the thigh and another under the foot, leaving the area from just above the knee to the ankle exposed to open space below.

    Andrea has now assembled her pressure monitor and was preparing to make her determining test. On one side was the mercury column manometer. An IV extension tubing was attached to the stopcock, which in turn was attached to a 20 ga. needle. The needle was inserted into the bottle of saline flush, and the syringe withdrawn until approximately ½ of the extension tubing was filled with the solution. The off side of the stopcock was left temporarily capped off.

    The needle was withdrawn and then changed to a new 18 ga x 2-1/2” needle after first closing the stopcock to block any further aspiration or loss of fluid. The 2nd extension tubing was then attached to the capped end of the stopcock, and the other end of the tubing attached to the manometer. The syringe was pulled off long enough to aspirate 15 ml of air, and then reattached to the stopcock. Telling Leadfoot to take a couple of deep breaths Andrea inserted the needle into the suspected area.

    “Owww!! Dammit!” For all his obvious discomfort Leadfoot held still throughout.

    Charlotte knelt on the far side of the cot, where a bag of LR was now infusing at 100 ml/hr. Carol stood by to lend whatever assistance might be called for. The needle was inserted until the resistance offered by the muscle itself changed modestly, indicating that it had penetrated into a space occupied by something less solid. There Andrea stopped, and carefully reaching for Carol’s hand took it and placed it so she could support the needle just so, perpendicular to the surface of the skin.

    The stopcock was now turned so as to allow both tubes and the syringe to form an open T-connection. This allowed a column of free air to extend from behind the saline partially filling the one tube into the syringe and the tube connected to the mercury column.

    “Carol, support the tube next to our patient so that it is at the same level as the needle.” Carol immediately saw what was being attempted and complied, using her other hand. By maintaining the same position as the needle the column of saline would not be artificially raised or lowered, adversely affecting the measurement.

    During all of this Ruth tried her best to occupy herself without glancing over at the improvised operating theater. Sara and Jeanette were standing inside the doorway, watching closely the actions not only of Andrea but also the other two nurses. They knew that in the future they might be expected to offer assistance during such a procedure, or so they thought. They had no idea that it was anything but routine.

    Drawing a deep breath Andrea prepared for the next step in the process. “Here goes nothing,” she muttered to herself. The plunger of the syringe was slowly and carefully depressed, injecting a minute amount of saline into the wound. Any possible obstruction, such as blood or tissue gathered as the needle penetrated the leg, was cleared.

    The saline inside the tube formed a convex surface in response to the pressure. As she depressed the plunger further, slowly and carefully, watching the fluid inside the extension tube as she did so, Andrea saw it change from convex to flat. There! The pressure was equalized on both sides now, both at the needle tip and in the air behind the saline. Now to read the pressure level thanks to the mercury column.

    34 mmHg. The cut-off point for intervention was considered to be 30 mmHg. Her tentative diagnosis was confirmed: compartment syndrome. Had there been additional time she could have reinserted the needle to other areas to make certain, but time was not a luxury they had. It had already been long hours since the original injury, and the only saving grace seemed to be that the increased intracompartmental pressure was fairly slow to develop.

    “Okay, go ahead and pull the needle out, I’m done” Andrea directed. Carol complied with a steady pull that brought a slight whoosh of air from Leadfoot. The reaction was probably one more of expectation of pain than any additional discomfort.

    Several pairs of eyes looked expectantly at Andrea, including Karl’s. Karl had taken the excuse of another tub being pulled free to make his own trip over to the house after hearing the latest report from Wendell.

    “What now,” he asked.

    Andrea sighed, and then answered slowly. “Now we know. I’m going to have to make incisions, open the leg up to relieve the pressure and flush out the clot. I just hope my hand is steady enough.”

    End Chapter XV Part VII
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  23. #63
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    Chapter XV Part VIII

    Dateline: Washington, D.C.

    “Are you sure that our forces are prevailing? The reports don’t seem to reflect that.”

    The pretender to the Presidency was speaking to one of her Arabic cohorts - Mufeed - who had been tasked with bringing her up to date on the latest gains – or losses – of the predominantly Arabic manned forces under her command.

    “Madam President, they prevail everywhere. A few minor skirmishes here and there may be claimed by the Rebel forces, but their gains are temporary and insignificant. The Khalife also wishes you to know that the promised additional forces are due to arrive on your coastline within the hour. The local contacts indicate that there will be no opposition to the landings. This pleases him greatly.”

    “No more than it pleases me. We need the new front opened up as quickly as possible. It has been over 2 months now and still we do not have forces across the Mississippi River. The commanders in the west are proving recalcitrant, refusing to obey my orders. They have succeeded in tying up a wealth of resources in terms of men and materials valuable to our efforts.” Hillary Boxer’s face gave way to her emotions as she spoke. The effect was if an old shrew had sucked on a lemon.

    “It is as you say, Madam President, but it shall not last.” The obsequious aide bowed slightly in emphasis of his words. “Our valiant men shall overcome the meager resistance offered in scattered areas. We have additional means at our disposal that our enemies do not yet suspect. That they are unknowing of these means they cannot prepare, and thus shall be crushed before the irresistible force of our might.”

    “Yes, yes, I’ve heard all this before,” Hillary said, throwing her hands out in a gesture of ridding herself of the formal assurances. She had expected no less, and it was not what she sought. Her own staff provided a better picture of the struggle across the nation, yet she doubted even them with their tendency towards left-wing optimism.

    Mufeed (The Useful One) stood silent, well trained in the art of diplomacy. He hid well his true emotions towards this infidel female. Once Shariah was instituted in this accursed land of The Great Satan she would be dealt with in due course. He relished the thought of that day.

    Dateline: USA

    Gasoline prices were soaring, now hovering over $4/gallon with some areas such as California hitting over $5.50/gallon routinely. In the contested areas of the country shortages were rampant, and prices hardly mattered in the long run. The more farsighted industries and businesses began exploring ways of housing critical workers on- or near-site as a way of maintaining product output.

    Now that summer was here and schools were out people didn’t have to worry about how their kids were going to get to school, and the schools themselves could sigh in temporary relief at the thought that they had a couple of months yet to locate sources of fuel and to adjust their budgets.

    The airline industry had already suffered significantly owing to rising fuel costs and decreasing passenger loads, and the increased restrictions on security served only to scare off many a would-be traveler. Flights to Europe were all but canceled in many instances, while others were routed well around Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Delaware. National ID, a specter from the past, was once again rearing its ugly head and looked likely to become a reality.

    Fortunately the mechanisms for implementing such a plan were falling apart on a weekly basis. The high tech firms that were touting the products that could make it a reality themselves found out how difficult it was to conduct business as usual when war raged all around.

    Hollywood was reaping the benefits, contrary to common wisdom. People began to flock to the movies once again, seeking escape from the realities of the new Peoples’ Republic. Comedies, no matter how lame, ruled the silver screen.

    Battalion Aid Midwest

    “What’s the next step, Irene,” Charlotte inquired.

    “We take care of the problem as best we can. We’ll need to open the leg to relieve the pressure. Unrelieved, well, it’s not good, we know that.”

    Carol spoke up next. “I hate to ask, but just how much surgical experience do you have?”

    Andrea took a moment to toss her head, causing her hair to flip back out of the way. “Limited, very limited. A few I & D’s, some basic suturing and skin stapling when the surgeon was in a good mood and the OR nurses felt like letting the Float play. Beyond that, practice on models and animal tissue.”

    Carol nodded. “I guess you win the coin toss then. So let’s get busy.”

    A couple more totes were carried in as they talked the matter over, after which Wendell decided to take a quick breather from his exertions. It also made for a convenient excuse to sneak a shy look at Ruth. Sara noticed but did not say anything. Ruth’s dark blue below the knees dress, knee-high stockings, black canvas shoes and old-fashioned bonnet intrigued him in a way he could not explain.

    Jeanette was preoccupied with the scene before them, wondering to herself if they had made the right decision in seeking permission to work at the aid station. She had witnessed the compartment pressure test with something barely short of awe. The girls were anything but ill educated, but short on experience that would make them worldly. They had never been exposed to the drama of reality TV, had no clue about blood-strewn crime scenes as nightly portrayed on the cop programs. Even the war itself seemed a strange, far-away thing. Such news as they received was devoid of explicit details.

    “Leadfoot,” Andrea asked softly. He lay there on the cot, leg propped up in preparation for the procedure.

    “Yeah?” His eyes were slightly glazed over, the effects of an extremely fatiguing day combining with the medications.

    “You understand what we’re going to be doing here?” Andrea’s voice remained soft, almost soothing.

    “Yer gonna cut my leg open ta git at thuh clot.”

    “Yes, that’s pretty much it. You do understand that there is a chance you could still lose your leg, even if this works.” Her words were meant to be questioning but came across as more of a statement of fact.

    “I know ‘at. Gotta be done is all I know. T’woun’t be no diff’rent at a real hospital. Good enough fer the troops, good ‘nuff fer me. Just sorry I caused y’alls any trouble is all. Real sorry, ma’am.” With this last his eyes seemed to mist over a bit. “Ah’m truly sorry, y’all. Weren’t ‘sposed to be like this atall.”

    Deep inside Andrea knew how he felt. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Patients weren’t supposed to be appearing out of the woodwork before she could even unpack, and the people who were supporting her effort weren’t supposed to be among them. But what done couldn’t be undone. There was nothing left to do but grit her teeth, roll up her sleeves, and get to work.

    “Leadfoot, I want you to know, that however this turns out, I … we, tried our best. The load of supplies and materials you carried may prove to be your salvation. There are a lot of people out there in the shed working their tails off so that you have the best chance possible, safely out of sight of the authorities. There are others here, too. You weren’t the first case I’ve received tonight. But right now and for the foreseeable future you are hands on the most important.” This last was stated with firm conviction.

    “Just do what ya gotta do,” was Leadfoot’s reply.

    “Carol, lay out my intubation equipment. I’ll need, oh, an 8 mm tube with a stylet and the #3 Miller blade.” Andrea began to tick things off in earnest now. “Auntie, go ahead and push the other 2 mg. of Dilaudid. Let’s get him as prepped as possible.”

    While the other two nurses carried out their assignments Andrea busied herself loading a large syringe with Lidocaine. Estimating Leadfoot to weigh a conservative 210 pounds, or approx. 95 kilograms, meant she could safely use 380 mg of the drug without risking toxicity. This was plain Lidocaine without Epinephrine, at a strength of 20 mg per milliliter. Had she the Lido w/Epi mixture immediately at hand she would have chosen that instead. It would have allowed a larger dose to be safely used and would also lengthen the duration of the anesthesia.

    Using a handy mosquito forcep from one of the disposable instrument trays that had been sacrificed she pulled the used needle off the syringe and changed it for a new 23 ga x 1-1/2”. The now loaded syringe was then carefully set aside.

    The instruments were retrieved from their aseptic soaking and a bottle of sterile water was cracked and used to rinse off the solution. A pair of tongs which had been propped up in the corner of the tub so that the ends were sterilized while the handles remained dry and accessible. As Andrea brought them out Charlene poured the water, then took each piece with a sterile towel and dried them before laying them on a sterile wrapper from a procedure tray. In this fashion they had a sterile field from which to work. For this procedure limiting any chance of introducing further infection was critical to an uncomplicated recovery.

    The instruments were carefully arranged side by side. A disposable scalpel with a #10 blade was separated from its package. Sara watched with interest as Andrea grasped the top flaps of the package and rolled her hands so that her fingers, grasping the two sides, rolled apart so that the sides of her hands came together as the fingers moved apart. In this fashion the scalpel fell out of the package onto the sterile field without ever being touched.

    Sterile gloves were next, The outer packages were opened and the gloves, while still remaining within the inner wraps, were laid out. Deciding she’d need a second pair of sterile hands she turned to Carol. “What size glove do you wear?”

    “6-1/2 or 7,” was the reply.

    “Okay, I have a pair here. I’m going to need you to retract for me.” Andrea indicated the instruments with a general wave of her hand.

    “That won’t be a problem. I had some practice in Virginia. We were a little short on OR staff so all of us had to pinch hit as needed,” Carol said, nodding in affirmation.

    “Alright then,” Andrea began. “I’m going to inject the local along this line here,” she indicated by drawing a finger along a line traveling up the lateral aspect of Leadfoot’s lower leg, “and here,” this time drawing an imaginary line up the medial aspect. “Then after a few minutes to take effect I start cutting.” Looking very pointedly at first Charlotte and then Carol she added “That’ll be the easy part.”

    A gasp came from the kitchen doorway, where Sara was standing with one hand over her mouth, a look approaching shock upon her face. Everyone present, including the gawking Wendell, turned to face her. Leadfoot was well into his drowsiness and almost oblivious to what was going on, his pain more or less controlled for the first time in several hours.

    “Sind Sie in Ordnung?” Andrea asked. [Are you alright?]

    “Es tut ich Leid. Ich habe nicht bedeutet, zu stören.” Sara appeared embarrassed at her involuntary gasp. [I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interfere]

    “Sie störten nicht. Sie wurden überrascht, war Ihre Reaktion natürlich.” [You were not interfering. You were surprised, your reaction was natural.] Andrea understood all too well what a cultural shock the entire scene must present for the girls. They had expected to perform simple nursing tasks, and their first night here and they were about to witness what could only be described as meatball surgery.

    Addressing the others momentarily Andrea stated, “Excuse me, I need to discuss something with the young ladies before we start. I’ll explain later.”

    “Frauleinen, ich ist ängstlich dies kann sein ein sehr blutiges Verfahren. Nachdem ich die Haut schneide, die es muscule und unbedeckten Knochen geben wird. Unser Patient ist aber nicht Schlafen beruhigt. Es kann sehr unbequem für ihn sein, und er kann aufschreien.” [Girls, I am afraid this may be a very bloody procedure. After I cut the skin there will be muscle and bone exposed. Our patient is sedated but not unconscious. It may be very uncomfortable for him, and he may cry out.]

    Ruth had by now stopped her actions and joined the other two girls. She was the one to speak first. “Der Mann der ist verletzt, ist er ein Teil von diesem Krankenhaus, ist er nicht?” [The man who is injured, he is a part of this hospital, is he not?]

    Andrea simply replied, “Ja."

    “Und Sie, Sie haben dieses Verfahren vor nicht gemacht?” [And you, you have not done this procedure before?]

    Andrea was beginning to worry about where this was going, but answered truthfully, “Ja, das ist richtig.”

    “Dies wird das letzte Mal nicht sein, das solche Dinge hier gemacht sind, dass richtig ist?” [This will not be the last time that such things are done here, is that correct?] Ruth seemed to be searching for something, though Andrea could not tell what.

    “Das ist sehr wahrscheinlich.” [That is very likely so.]

    “Aber ein sehr moralisches Ding Sie, und die anderen, machen, was ist, ist es nicht? Sie versuchen, anstatt zu heilen, bringt Schaden.” [But what you, and the others, are doing, is a very moral thing, is it not? You are attempting to heal rather than bring harm.]

    Andrea considered her response for only a moment. “Sprechen nur für mich selbst, obwohl ich glaube, dass die anderen viel den gleichen Weg fühlt, glaube ich vom Boden von meinem Herzen das, was wir machen, ist moralisch in den Augen von Gott.” [Speaking only for myself, though I believe the others feel much the same way, I believe from the bottom of my heart that what we are doing is moral in the eyes of God.]

    At this point Jeanette interjected after first giving Sara a nudge to catch her attention and raising a questioning eyebrow when she had it. She received a nod in return. “Wir verstehen sehr gut, dass dieser Ort für einen moralischen Zweck gegründet wurde. Wir sind hier wegen das, weil wir wünschen, zu helfen, während Sie sich zu suchen, anderen zu helfen.” [We understand very well that this place was founded for a moral purpose. We are here because of that, because we wish to help, as you yourself seek to help others.]

    She paused for effect, and then continued. Schmerz und Leiden können Teil von Heilung sein. Einmal als ich sehr jung war, bin ich auf dem Eis gefallen und habe meinen Arm gebrochen. Es hat verletzt, es zu bewegen, aber Vater hat gewusst, dass es bewegt werden musste, um zu machen, es besser. Die Fahrt zum Krankenhaus in Oelwein war auch sehr schmerzhaft, aber notwendig. Wir können es gemütlich nicht finden, um diese Sorte des Leidens zu sein, aber wenn nicht uns, dann wer? Sie müssen helfen. Es kocht und reinigt, und andere Aufgaben. Wenn wir wenigstens diese Dinge dann Sie machen können, sind frei, für die Patienten zu sorgen.

    Es kann geben hat Schmerz, nicht nur für die Patienten, aber für uns verwickelt. Wir sind hier, wegen was wir in unseren Herzen fühlen, und wenn andere wir auch verletzen, verletzen. In unserem eigenen Weg suchen wir, wie Sie, zu heilen.
    [Pain and suffering can be part of healing. Once, when I was very young, I fell on the ice and broke my arm. It hurt to move it, but Father knew that it had to be moved in order to make it better. The ride to the hospital in Oelwein was also very painful, but necessary. We may not find it comfortable to be around this sort of suffering, but if not us, then who? You need help. There is cooking and cleaning, and other tasks. If we can at least do these things then you are free to take care of the patients.

    There may be pain involved, not just for the patients, but also for us. We are here because of what we feel in our hearts, and when others hurt we also hurt. In our own way we seek, like you, to heal.]

    “Das wurde sehr gut, Jeanette erklärt.” [That was very well stated, Jeanette.] Andrea’s fears were dissolving even as she spoke.

    Ruth once more jumped in with her say in the matter. “Wir sind nicht ängstlich, von was wir sehen können, aber nur von unserem Mangel der Kenntnis.” [We are not afraid of what we may see, but only of our lack of knowledge.]

    Sara nodded in affirmation of what the other two had said. [Es ist wahr. Wenn wir von Hilfe die wir müssen lernen sein sollen, als wir von früher gesprochen haben. Bitte befürchten Sie für uns, wir sind stark nicht oder wir wären hier nicht.]

    Now Andrea understood. Where she was worried about the potential for emotional damage to the girls by way of being witness to the procedure, they in turn were concerned that their lack of knowledge might prove a barrier to their being able to properly assist her.

    “Ich verstehe jetzt. Vielen Dank. Sie müssen nicht bleiben, wenn Sie zu nicht wünschen, obwohl. Es wird genug Blut geben, wenn es Zeit ist, Verbände zu ändern, und es wird viele solche Zeiten voraus geben.” [I understand now. Thank you. You do not have to stay if you do not wish to, though. There will be enough blood when it is time to change bandages, and there will be many such times ahead.]

    Sara did not hesitate with her response, which was stated in a firm manner that left no doubt. “Wir werden bleiben und werden helfen, der Weise die wir können. Bitte kümmern Sie sich nicht um uns, aber nur für jenen armen Mann.” [We will stay and help in whatever way we may. Please do not worry about us, but only for that poor man.]

    Ruth and Jeanette each in turn nodded their own affirmation to her words. It was settled then, they would remain and begin their education in earnest.

    Andrea turned back to where the other nurses and her patient waited. “We’re ready to proceed.”

    Turning back to address Wendell she gave him firm direction. “Please have one of the medics from the ambulance look in on our other patients, starting with the burn victim in the other room, and advise me if anyone needs immediate attention. Otherwise we are not to be disturbed. No one is to bring anything else in, nor enter unless it is an emergency.”

    Wendell simply replied “Yes, ma’am” and turned on his heels and beat a hasty retreat.

    End Chapter XV
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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  24. #64
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    Chapter XVI Part I

    Patriot Aid Station Chapter XVI – Awakening To A Harsh Reality

    Dateline: Unnamed Location in the USA

    “Have the test results met our expectations?” The speaker spoke with an air of casual authority. There was no reason to elaborate; there was only one series of tests about which he could be speaking.

    “Yes sir, they have resulted in positive outcomes with every lot tested. The mortality rate is significant, and the infectability… well, I must say we were most impressed.”

    “Excellent.” The word was drawn out in evident satisfaction.

    “There is more, sir.” The sycophant awaited permission to continue, apparently eager to tell all he knew.

    “Go on.”

    We have timed the interval from initial exposure to the agent to the first signs of active infection at an average of 31.2 hours. The variation was less than 1 and one half hours either way,” he offered in a quick burst of words.

    “A most aggressive agent. I am impressed. An auspicious achievement indeed. It seems our eccentric gene splicer is better at the practice of his craft than we had dared hope he might be. I was prepared to be sorely disappointed, as we have been so often in the past.”

    “It is, if I may be allowed to say so, a significant leap forward in our struggle.” The toady was almost gushing in his enthusiasm.

    “It may well be. But let us not be too hasty. Tell me, how much of the test material remains?”

    “Barely enough for another 2 or 3 series of tests. To date we have sacrificed a total of 41 test subjects. Those, that is, that were not part of the control group. Our agent was careful not to allow us too much all at once. Very crafty on his part, if I may be allowed to say so. We will need more material of course, enough to extend our tests to several hundred subjects, and also to ensure that there is no other material present that may provide false positives.”

    At this last the other arched a bushy eyebrow. “Is there reason to suspect that the declines were anything other than due to the test material?”

    “No sir. I am only counseling caution. It would not behoove us to automatically assume that the agent is everything promised, and nothing more. It is possible, though not likely by any means, that there was something else introduced that could cause the declines. We have no reason to believe so, but we have yet to complete the latest batch of necropsies.”
    “A wise caution indeed. So much is at stake that we would do well to proceed with great caution, to confirm the observations in order that we may be certain of the results not only for the present but in the future.” He paused for a moment, mentally wrestling with himself.

    “Very well then. Contact the other party and advise him we are pleased with the initial test results, and seek additional material for confirmation purposes. I expect that there will be the usual delay in his response. No matter, it will allow time to complete the present test series.”

    “Yes sir. I will personally see to it immediately.”

    With that the slighter man turned and left the plush leather and cherry furnished office.


    Dateline: Engleside, Virginia

    The grounds of the Fort Belvoir Military Reservation had been taken over by the Royal Guard and their cohorts early on. Today it resembled nothing so much as a military strongpoint reminiscent of the French fortified positions at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, albeit on a grander scale. Access was tightly controlled, with both Arabic and North American guards at every gate. Every vehicle entering was searched using dogs and pole mirrors, the occupants subject to random pat downs no matter their apparent nationality. The invaders were keenly cognizant of the multi-cultural aspect of the land they had invaded, and were always on the lookout for infiltrators loyal to the old Republic who otherwise shared ethnic heritages with their own countries of origin.

    Commandeered rotary wing aircraft were sequestered inside a separately fenced in area that guards with dogs constantly patrolled the perimeter of. The chances of a saboteur, even if they made it onto the reservation itself, reaching the aircraft was slim at best, and their life expectancy after that virtually nil.

    Even possessing this knowledge there were those determined to do what they could for the furtherance of The Cause.

    Rodney Watkins, or simply Rod as his comrades in arms knew him, was a former rotary wing engine and airframe mechanic who’d seen service during the Iraqi War. He had served his time, received decent evals from his superiors, and exited the service to make use of his GI Bill benefits. That was 4 years ago. Now armed with an Associate degree in criminal justice administration he had been on the short list for a position with an area police force when the assassinations took place.

    Wandering ahead of the actual fighting with other refugees he had been detained at a checkpoint when it was noticed that he had a Spyderco Clipit stuck to the inside of a pocket. That was enough to get him arrested, and while they had him they ran his background. Faced with a possible weapons charge for a blade he knew to be of legal length he had at first balked at the offer to serve his country once again. This time though it would be with forces under a Commander-in-Chief of an entirely different stripe altogether. After a period of time spent in a stinking cell filled to capacity with other unfortunates he’d been made the offer once again. That, or he could face hard time for carrying a deadly weapon. Considering the reports that were making the rounds of the rumor mill there really wasn’t a choice in his view. What he did not make known, though, were his thoughts on just how it was that he would serve. There was service to his country, and there was service to his Country.

    Rod was as thorough as any mechanic, perhaps more so. He was automatically under suspicion because of his past service and his now being employed in a sensitive area. The Royal Guard had brought along a few of their own rotor craft mechanics but none of them possessed more than passing familiarity with Blackhawks and other state-of-the-art helicopters. It job of orienting them befell Rod by default when it was discovered that they had not inherited more than a couple of regular line mechanics when the aircraft were acquired. Only Rod held the multiple rating necessary to service all but the electronic gear.

    Knowing that his future on earth depended on pleasing his new employers he was dutiful in the extreme. Secretly detesting the arrogant manner of his Middle Eastern counterparts he still managed to put on an air of indifference. He was the only one with the skills in any case, and one of the few capable of reading the maintenance and repair manuals with any ease. The airframe guys could read them, of course, but that doesn’t mean they could tell the difference between the primary and secondary fuel injection pumps and their relationship to each other. It hadn’t hurt his case as far as his superiors were concerned when he was able to identify and correct some sloppy work on the part of not only the Arab mechanics but also the American conscripts that left uncorrected, in at least one case, might have caused an aircraft to go down.

    The result was relaxed surveillance on the part of his new masters. He was able to collect and keep for his own exclusive use a dedicated set of tools under his control. He was adamant about not loaning them out, which at first caused him no little grief. But, as he pointed out, he knew exactly how to use them properly, whereas someone unfamiliar with them might strip a knuckle or overstress a spanner, causing downtime and the loss of a critical tool. So long as he had his own set there was always a backup should one of the others ruin an expensive, and these days, difficult to replace tool. He guaranteed the accuracy and quality of his work, and so far as the others were capable of learning from a mere infidel he would teach them.

    And teach them he did, to a point. Their own arrogance worked against them. He noticed that if he didn’t stand over the others that they were prone to taking shortcuts and extending minor maintenance intervals so that they could get off duty earlier. A plan formed in his mind that would sabotage over time aircraft by the very people responsible for their upkeep, the ones who were purportedly above reproach because they were loyal Followers. By allowing them to operate in slipshod fashion when it suited them, when the time came the maintenance logs would show that it was they, not him, who were responsible for aircraft failures and losses. The fickle finger would point to others.

    Rod began to stress several areas that were real pains to deal with. In doing so he knew that the minute he turned his back his erstwhile students would grow weary and take shortcuts that would eventually catch up to them. There was a shortage of the proper safety wires and retention clips, and he made sure that he always had the proper number available to him. Such things were prone to occasional breakage, and after a while he began to find them missing at odd points on the other aircraft that he himself was not directly responsible for.

    In a way the invaders were their own worse enemies. They didn’t care for the rigid replacement and repair schedules that the military had established for their aircraft. Schedules that had been adjusted over time in response to direct experiences. One day a couple of weeks after his impressment Rod found himself going toe-to-toe with a raghead officer who insisted that a few extra hours flight time on a couple of machines wouldn’t matter.

    “I worked on these machines for years. I was there to see what happens when maintenance schedules aren’t adhered to – parts fail and men get killed. Those would be your men! You aren’t going to pin a failure on me because MY work isn’t shoddy. It’s A-number-1 across the board. The schedule says we drain the tail rotor hydraulics and inspect the lines and connections now, not after another 5 or 10 or 20 hours of flight time. These machines are sensitive. You have to baby them.”

    “You are to release the machines as ordered. You cannot hide your incompetence by pretending that these machines are not ready to fly. They flew in here, I saw this myself. If they cannot fly you have sabotaged them.” The officer was stupid as well as stubborn, not that that was anything new. He was probably the Royal Guard equivalent of a butter bar lieutenant.

    “I didn’t say they ‘couldn’t’ fly, I said they ‘shouldn’t’ fly. Do you want me to draw you a picture? I’m the best mechanic you have here, the only one qualified to do airframe AND powerplant, and the only one technically qualified to sign off on the work. Hydraulic fluid degrades with time and use. These birds are at their limit. From this point on the fluid degrades faster and faster, and ZIP! You have a rotor that refuses the controls, and your bird is heading for the ground spinning around in faster and faster circles around its own axis.”

    “If you are found to have sabotaged the aircraft you will be shot as an example to the others.” The butter bar wasn’t backing down.

    “If an aircraft goes down due to hydraulic failure, killing the flight crew along with the passenger load, then you deserve to be shot for failing to take the expert advice of the only person who knows what the heck he’s doing around here.” Rod’s jaw was jutting forward as he said this, daring the officer to overrule him.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    Karl was on his way back to the house with another tote when he was intercepted in the yard by Wendell.

    “Sir, the lady says ain’t no one supposed to enter the place unless it’s an emergency. She’s ready to start operating and I don’t think she wants to be disturbed.”

    Karl had been planning on sneaking another peek at the goings-on in the kitchen, as well as checking on the progress with the food and drink, but arrested his march as soon as Wendell gave him the news.

    “Okay, I can see her point. I guess this can wait on the porch. Did she say anything else?”

    “Yes sir. She says to have the guys from the ambulance check on the other patients meanwhile.”

    “Okay, go pass the message on. We’ll organize things out here, and then, I guess, we’ll sit and wait.” Now that the rush to unload the truck seemed to have passed Karl found himself suddenly without direction. He hated that feeling. He preferred to remain busy and useful.

    Continuing to carry the tote to the porch and then setting it down he took a moment to rest from his exertions, sitting on the weathered white planking with his feet resting on his heels, legs stretched out before him. The thought occurred to him that they still had several troopers back at his place, who were by now likely more than famished themselves and wondering if they had been compromised in some fashion. He quickly reached a decision and started to stride back to the machine shed, just as Mike and Mark came walking over with another box apiece.

    “Just set them on the porch with mine, guys. Be quiet when you go check on the others; they’re operating in the kitchen and don’t want to be disturbed unless someone’s dieing.”

    Proceeding on to the shed he left the others to their assignment. Locating Belloc near the growing stack against the wall he went over and offered his thoughts on the matter. Belloc agreed wholeheartedly that they needed to get back to the other troops, and once they were fed, get them back down to the aid station. From what little they had seen already there was a lot of work to be done, and the patients weren’t waiting. There was also the matter of security, both with troops hanging loose back at Karl’s place, and for the aid station itself.

    “We can be back to the farm in an hour, including a stop for some grub for the guys, and back here well before sun up. The guys can rack out in the barn over yonder, and spend tomorrow helping to finish unloading and sorting this trailer. After that, we’ll figure something out.” Karl’s mind was churning with possibilities. He was away from his communications net and felt blinded as a result. Things were happening quickly and he needed information.

    Belloc nodded in affirmation. “I agree. There are enough hands here for tonight. They’ve got 3 nurses plus the girls to help out with the cooking and what not. Plus the local guy here, the truckdriver, Rick and that Roy fellow. Not to mention the two ambulance drivers. I say we leave them a pair of AK’s and a bandoleer and light out back north and hook up with the others before they get themselves into trouble.”

    “I’d say that’s a plan,” Karl responded. “Let’s tell the others and get going. It’s getting on 2230 now and we’ll have to make tracks to find anything open up the road.”

    They quickly apprised the others of their plans, saying only that they had to leave and pick up some more troops whom they’d be bringing back sometime after 0100 hours. All agreed that there were plenty of hands now and that they could get by for a while without them.

    Karl entrusted one of the AK’s to Ken. Frederick received the other one for the time being. He was quite familiar with the weapon from past experience. Then, without another word they retrieved their truck and headed out, their first stop a convenience store in Monona for fuel and grub.

    End Chapter XVI Part I
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  25. #65
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    Chapter XVI Part II

    Dateline: An Unnamed Border Town

    “Any problems, Arnold?”

    “Nary a one,” responded the other man. “I did just as we planned, stuffed as many as possible in the cigarette cartons, declared them, and paid the excise tax on everything over the one carton allowed duty free.”

    “Nice piece of work. Every little bit helps.” The first man paused for a moment, then smiled, showing a new glint. “I had some success myself. Customs fellar asks if I had anything to declare, and I popped out my new set of uppers and asked him if he had any idea what the import duties would be.”

    Arnold broke out in gales of laughter. “Haw! Haw! Haw! I wish’t I coulda seen his face when you did that!”

    “Yeah, his jaw dropped for a moment, then he couldn’t run my passport and wave me through fast enough. Didn’t even peak into the shopping bag. I’ve got over $1,500 worth of stuff in here, besides the pastries from that little place on La Plata.”

    “Say, Guy, heard from any of the others?”

    “Yeah, Thelma Marie came by a bit ago, got a slew of blood pressure pills – maybe 5,000 in all, a few pain relievers and about 12 tubes of Argental cream. The big ones, too. Musta cleaned out a coupla farmacias for that. Oh yeah, and a few bottles of Lidocaine. Added to her salt and peppershaker collection, too. I mean, besides arthritis medicines and Mexican pottery and leather goods what else do us old farts cross over for?” With that he nudged his erstwhile smuggling companion in the ribs like they used to do in their younger and wilder days.

    “Arnold, I tell ya, I sure wish I were 20 years younger. I sure wouldn’t be sitting down here in a cheap motel room planning my next trip across.”

    “Guy, if you wuz 20 years younger you’d still be facing mandatory retirement,” the other replied.

    “Well, yeah, I know, but… aww heck, you know what I mean. My eyesight’s gone to pot and my legs are all stove up with arthritis. Least ways 20 years ago I could still see and walk a coupla miles without setting.”

    “Well, heck, Guy, ain’t none of us spring chickens any more. Do what we can. Folks back home depending on us and all. You and I, we did our part back in ‘Nam. Now it’s time we put our knowledge to work and support the younger guys and gals. They don’t have dust-offs and the like. Have to smuggle in beans and band-aids. Damn shame and all, what the country’s come to.”

    Guy for his part was reflective. “I know. Guess I’m just wishing we was back home in Missouri instead of baking down here in this heat.”

    Arnold just shrugged. “Least ways we don’t have ta worry ‘bout none of them ragheads showing up here. That’s one good thing about it.”

    “So far that is.” Guy, too, had listened to the short-wave reports and read the news stories from the few mass media organs that hadn’t gone completely over to the other side. “Seems that there ain’t enough of them to spread this far. As it is, way I hear any way, they’re dependant upon traitors from our side to round out their forces. Not near enough of them to occupy more than a coupla states.”

    While the two men were talking a comely young Latino woman, small boy in tow, approached them. Her mannerisms suggested purpose to her actions as she approached the pair.

    “Senor Winfrey?”

    Guy turned towards her expectantly.

    “I was able to make the buyings you asked. My cousin, he owns a farmacia. He was very helping and says to me to tell you he welcome your business.” The way she pronounced the word sounded more like beezness, one of the cliché words that so often did not come out quite the way a native Mexican Spanish speaker intended. “My other cousin, Hidalgo, he ees a dentista. He sends also a few theengs he say you will need. He say, no charge these time. He love America and all the business it brings to his office. He is happy to help.”

    Guy had made arrangements with the young woman the day before while he was down for the preliminary fitting of his new upper plate. He and his wife, Nadine, had been regular visitors to the area for 19 years, coming down shortly after Christmas every year to spend the next 3-4 months camped out in a RV park before heading back to the Midwest in time for the planting of their annual garden. They had established a routine with local farmacias, dentists and optometrists years before, and were no strangers to the border town and its ways.

    Beatriz, the young mother, worked as a server at a local restaurant popular with the senior crowd because of its low prices and quality food that went easy on the spices. Her son, Daniel, was often a fixture as well, playing quietly in the background as she scurried between tables.

    Guy had been attracted by the cute tyke who reminded him of his own great-grandson, Nathaniel. Beatriz didn’t mind the gifts of coins Guy would make, and over time made it a point to personally wait on Guy, his wife and their occasional guests. A warm if professional friendship had developed over the past couple of years, with Nadine and Guy informally adopting young Daniel as their seasonal great-grandson.

    When Guy had asked her if she would run the slight risk of bringing across a bag full of various medicaments she had not hesitated. She often shopped at Wal-Mart and other stores on the US-side of the border and was hardly the type to attract attention, as her now approaching school-age son was always in tow and her purchases within the limits. It was her habit to carry a lunch and several drinks for the two of them, so the bulk in her shopping bag attracted no more than cursory attention at best.

    “Thank you so very, very much, Beatriz. You’ve no idea how helpful this is to us. These will go a very long way towards aiding in the recovery of wounded men and women. You are to be commended, as well as your cousins.”

    Beatriz blushed self-consciously at this. “Senor Winfrey, you have been so very kind to my son and I. My cousins, they appreciate the business you Americans bring. They fear the Islam,” She pronounced it Eezlam, “soldiers may come this way, and the border will not stop them. Already they lose much business, and fear that so many people will not came in the winter as before. They have little ones to feed also.”

    Arnold joined the conversation now. “Well, it’s still mighty nice of you to help us like this. Guy and I, we’re old warriors ourselves, old being the word. We jest have to figure out how to carry on the fight in our own ways.”

    “I pray for your country at the iglesia. It is so bad, this war. My family and I, we do what we can to help you. We not have much like you, but we have faith. We pray for your army that it beat the Eezlam. They do not much like the Católicos like us, is true?”

    Guy nodded somberly. “I’m afraid they wouldn’t appreciate a good Presbyterian like myself any more. But I don’t much think they have religious conversion on their mind.”

    Beatriz herself now nodded with a serious look to her face. “It is as we fear, they come to murder and destroy because they hate the America. Even in Mehico we have mucho better life than in the Arabia countries.” She sighed as she said this, looking down at her patiently awaiting son.

    Arnold bowed his own head, as if in a silent prayer. “Yeah, sad times indeed, no matter which side of the border we live on.”

    Guy quickly moved to break the mood before it grew morose. “Let’s see what we have here. Might need you to pick up a few more things to pass along to one us of tomorrow so we don’t spend so much time on the other side that it attracts suspicion.”

    The tally of items Beatrix carried included 11 bottles of Lidocaine – 3 of them with Epinephrine, 7 100-count bottles of Ciprofloxacin, and 5 50-count bottles of Toradol, which would greatly extend the meager supply of that pain medication as was available in IV form. This supplementary supply was important because Toradol is supposed to be started in either IV or IM form, but could be continued for the up to 5 days maximum safe use time with the oral form. Hardly the pain reliever of choice for major traumas it nevertheless stood well where soft tissues were affected, when a strong anti-inflammatory analgesic would stand in good steed. In doing so it would also allow the true narcotics to be used where needed elsewhere.

    There were also boxes of Reglan (metoclopramide) to be used in conjunction with morphine for the prevention of the nausea that sometimes accompanied it, tubes of a combination cream called Gelmicin that was useful for skin inflammations and infections, more tubes of Argental - the local brand of Silvadene cream - and more. Beatriz had been able to carry more across in one trip than both men together, along with their wives and a couple of accomplices.

    The golden prize was in the form of several hundred count oral narcotics such as Vicodin and Percot, items that the local farmacias ordinarily could not provide without valid scripts written on both sides of the border. How the pharmacy would manage to cover for the absence the men had no idea, but the supply was extremely welcome. Her dentist cousin had also sent 50 Carpujects of Lidocaine for dental procedures, and, she stated, could provide more when needed. There was also a bottle of amalgam pellets for dental fillings, something neither man had considered and knew nothing about. They would, however, see that it reached the hands of those who would know how to use it.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    Roger had been careful to bypass St. Olaf. There was nothing resembling a parts store there and his choice of routes might have proven difficult to explain were he to be stopped once again. Out on the country roads there was little chance of a local Deputy, much less a State Trooper, running across him.

    Years of practice had taught him how to determine his location by counting roads and creek crossings and comparing them to the Tam maps he carried in the cab. Tonight was no different. He made inerrantly for his destination, bringing what was believed to be a badly needed load of supplies to replace those presumed, the last he knew, to have either been lost or at least seriously delayed. As it was he would be arriving hours after the first truck had been due.

    Paying attention as he passed the odd farm entrance he at last found what he was seeking. The place seemed to match the description he was given, right down to the mailbox which had been recently modified slightly in order to provide a tidbit of confirmation to those in the know. Taking a deep breath he turned the wheel and entered the tree-shaded driveway.

    As he passed through the sheltering band of fir trees he became aware of several things in quick order.

    There seemed to be a lot of activity at a building past the farmhouse, activity that included a semi-trailer and tractor backed up to the building, with muted lighting aimed at the interior of the building.

    There was little light coming from the farmhouse itself, though it appeared there was someone on the porch watching.

    There were two or three vehicles parked around the house itself or the farmyard, in addition to the semi.

    And there was a man in what appeared in the dark to be some sort of mottled uniform pointing a rifle in his direction from 10 feet to the side of his cab.

    Roger quickly braked to a halt and threw the vehicle into park. Then he carefully raised both arms so that they could be seen in the faint light cast by the dash lights. As was his practice he drove with the side window partially down, the better to enjoy the cool breeze of the night air rather than the artificial cool of the AC unit.

    “Sorry if I took a wrong turn. Don’t mean to be trespassing,” he called out at the armed figure that stood there, the rifle wavering slightly though remaining aimed at him.

    “Keep your hands where I can see them and state your business.” came the crisp reply.

    “Name’s Roger. I drive for Quality Auto Parts, as you can see by the name on the side of the truck. I’m supposed to be delivering an axle and differential for a Chevy C5 to a farmstead here. My papers are all in order and I thought this was the right address. I’m sure you’ll tell me if I’m wrong. I don’t think I am but you never know. I’ve been mistaken before and the address on the mailbox was none too clear. I ain’t armed, neither. No sirree I ain’t. Not even a box cutter.”

    “Just sit tight until we can check those papers. There’s been too many cattle go missing around here of late and your truck is just about big enough for 4 or 5 head.” Whoever they guy with the rifle was he seemed to mean business, Roger thought. He hadn’t been warned about any armed guards but then the story about missing cattle sounded legit, and he might have missed the place by one drive after all.

    Another figure detached itself from the lighted building with all the activity and came in their direction. Roger sat as he was, arms raised with hands at shoulder height, awaiting the arrival of someone he hoped could sort things out before the nervous guy with the odd looking rifle twitched a finger.

    The lanky figure took its time reaching them, the person careful to step around to the rear of the guard so as to never interfere with the line of fire, before approaching the side of the truck.

    “Ya lost there, mister? Don’t got none a them parts places hereabouts.”

    “Not right sure if I am or not,” Roger began. “I’se supposed to be delivering an axle and differential for a Chevy C5 to a place called Bambi Farm somewhere around here. Thought I’d counted the right number of roads and driveways but ya never can tell in the dark. Sometimes you miss one and end up at the wrong house.”

    The lanky figure made no start at the mention of the Bambi Farm. He just continued to look Roger over, never taking his eyes off of him, while the guarded neither lowered the rifle nor made another sound. A bead of sweat had formed on Roger’s brow and he was beginning to wonder if he’d stumbled across somebody’s meth lab operation instead.

    Finally a grunt issued from the questioner. “Bambi Farm, huh. Happen t’ know who it be there youse a lookin’ for? Might be able to help ya better then.”

    “Well, office told me I was to ask for a gal goes by the name of Thumper. Said she’s the one who’s supposed to sign for the delivery. I know it’s kinda late and all but my regular delivery schedule is at night. After hours ya know? That way the orders come in during the day and get sent to the warehouse and I deliver all night and the store has the part for the customer the next day. This was a special order, a drop ship thing if ya know what I mean. I’m off the regular route for just the stores but for a heavy item like this it don’t make no sense having to move it several times when it can be loaded and unloaded once.”

    The figure in the dark seemed to relax a bit. “Thumper, huh. I hear tell of her. Gots a special title an’ all, too, beings she runs the place. They happen to tell you whut that might be?”

    Roger had been provided this information as well. Had the questioner not asked for it he would have assumed they either didn’t know the contact person or weren’t in on the game, in which case he would have to rely on his ability to jaw his way out and back on the road.

    “Yessir, they said she was the Denmother. That help any? Mighty odd sort of moniker if you ask me but what do I know.”

    “Yeah, I reckon it does. Been a wondering when you might show up. As ya kin see we got the other truck here after all. Don’t make you any less welcome.” Frederick was back in his role of country bumpkin, speech and mannerisms alike. Meet other members of the network from afar face to face, sure. But always maintain the cover identity. His viability in the community depended upon it. Very few knew just how educated the man was, or how experienced.

    Roger was quickly directed to the machine shed area. He explained his need to get his truck unloaded so he could turn around in time to be back home around daylight. Since he was operating under the guise of his normal occupation it was essential that he maintain all appearance of normalcy. A quick discussion was held and it was decided to move the semi in order to allow for the unloading of Roger’s truck so that he could be on his way. Now that they had achieved much of their goal of accessing the critical items for the drama unfolding inside the house they had a bit of leeway.

    Inside the house Mike and the other medic, Mark, were completing their assessment of the other patients. Dan was stable for now, as far as they could tell. They changed out a now empty IV bag for a fresh one. The other, running at a slower rate, was still good for a couple more hours yet. Dan was showing some signs of positive response. He twitched in response to the standard eyelash flick test widely used by EMS personnel. That was a good sign; at least he wasn’t in some sort of deep coma. Upon checking his pupils Mike noted that while responsive they seemed vacant and unfocused. They were equal in size, approximately 4 mm diameter and responded in equal fashion. That was another good sign. He couldn’t find any significant injury to the skull when he palpated it, and the breathing was reasonably deep though it seemed as though he was holding back, perhaps due to the pain that accompanied respiration with an injured chest wall.

    Irene (Andrea) hadn’t had time to place a foley catheter yet, so Mike took care of that detail, having noted several cath trays in one of the boxes that had been pulled, checked for contents, and then set to the side. His partner made the run back to the machine shed to retrieve it. Upon introducing the catheter an immediate strong return of light amber urine resulted. The color wasn’t so dark as to indicate dehydration, another positive sign. Mike clamped the flow at approximately 1,000 cc lest the patient go into bladder spasm. Later he’d unclamp it so that flow could resume. He expected to find a good bit more but didn’t know if the man had been incontinent of urine earlier, thus accounting for more output than could be measured. Matching input to output was important in burn cases in order to monitor for fluid retention.

    There was some response to the introduction of the catheter, another positive sign. Afterwards the patient seemed mildly agitated, a reaction that he took it to be a positive indication. Obviously he wasn’t in a deep state of coma if he responded in such fashion. He made a note to see to obtaining more analgesic.

    Meantime, after running his errand Mark made sure the others upstairs were doing okay. If nothing else they had beds that didn’t rock with the motion of the vehicle that had borne them here. Their vital signs were assessed quickly, found to be unremarkable, and the patients tucked and plumped as well as he could under the circumstances. He assured each of them that tomorrow would bring a better day, and silently prayed to himself that it be so.

    End Chapter XVI Part II
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  26. #66
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    Chapter XVI Part III

    but he wasn’t feeling much pain at present. That would change soon enough. For a procedure of this magnitude proper conscious sedation would have been optimal but that was far outside the realm of what was at hand medication-wise. Andrea had been certified in the technique and had had the opportunity to practice it several times – rare for a nurse who wasn’t otherwise attached to the ER, ICU or other specialty area on a regular basis – but the required medications were strictly controlled and thus unavailable.

    “Okay, I’m ready.” Andrea was about to undertake a procedure she had studied, has once witnessed in the ER, but had never practiced. Inside she was trembling with the certain knowledge that she had no back up should anything go wrong. Her only recourse would be to package her patient and ship him to a real hospital capable of remedying the situation. Considering how much time they probably had left before the certainty of permanent serious damage occurred that really wasn’t even an option, only a potential reaction.

    Picking up a skin marker from an open procedure tray she first drew a line on the lateral aspect of the affected leg. This would be her line for the injection of the Lidocaine. She then scribed the medical aspect with a similar line. The purple ink would last more than long enough though it would eventually wash away.

    That done she picked up the loaded syringe and began to insert the needle through the skin. There was little reaction on the part of her patient. She first injected towards the foot, then withdrew the needle part way and injected straight down, and then repeated the procedure to inject laterally towards the knee. Once that was completed she withdrew the needle entirely and make an identical series of injections farther up the leg. Several such injections later she was finished with that side.

    The other syringe was then picked up, and carefully leaning over she made injections to that side. There was more reaction from her patient, indicating increased tenderness to that side. A few minutes after the injections were completed, during which time the hasty OR crew made their final preparations and gloved up and the Lidocaine had done its work. Leadfoot consistently denied any feeling in response to careful needle pricks along the two lines, save to one area on the medial aspect. Another dose of Lidocaine was administered there, to take effect while she worked on the lateral (outside) aspect of the leg.

    Drawing yet another deep breath she reached over and picked up a scalpel. Carol was standing by with a mitt full of sponge to sop up the inevitable bleeding that resulted from the incision. Andrea’s hand was steady as she began to incise. Her progress was steady, not too fast but even. The line her scalpel drew wavered but slightly, following the line drawn in purple ink. Leadfoot gave no sign that he was experiencing any pain from the advance of the blade. Carol’s hand was right there with the sponge, working around Andrea, sopping up the capillary blood that seeped from the incision, leaving a clear picture of the growing line on the skin surface.
    Andrea’s incision was good for a novice. Not too deep, but consistently through the skin and just nicking the subcutaneous fat below. She didn’t wish to progress too far right off, but she was also conscious of the time element of the local anesthetic agent. If she wasn’t quick enough it would wear off and she’d have a patient who didn’t feel like laying still while she cut into him. The real test of her skills would be when she penetrated the muscle layers.

    Behind her the girls watched with rap attention. So far it wasn’t as bad as they had imagined. They were not strangers to blood per se, but home butchering was pretty much a thing of the past save for a few older farmers in their area. Most often the pigs, cattle and other livestock they raised for home consumption were sent to a regular butcher for slaughter and processing.

    Andrea worked as quickly as she dared. The initial incision extended a full 12 inches. It was important that she not be too conservative and fail to fully relieve the pressure built up inside the extremity as a result. As she delved deeper, working her way through the muscle layers underneath there was significantly more bleeding. Carol by now was dividing her time between retracting with a Senn-Miller and dabbing with a sponge clamped firmly in the jaws of a 10” ring forceps. Andrea needed more retraction, especially in view of the less-than-adequate lighting she had to work with. That meant Carol would have to use both hands. Charlotte was needed to monitor their patient, so that meant…

    “Sara, wie hält Ihr Magen?”

    “Er ist gut. Ich werde nicht der wenige Spitze Kranke.” [It is well. I am not becoming the least bit sick.]

    “Wenn ich erzähle, dass Sie welches Dose Sie macht, wischen das Blut für mich auf, während ich arbeite? Carol wird brauchen beide Hände für andere Aufgaben.” [If I tell you what to do can you mop up the blood for me as I work? Carol is going to need both hands for other tasks.]

    “Ich bin bereit, zu versuchen, Frau Whitewater.” [I am willing to try, Mrs. Whitewater.]

    Andrea apprised Carol and Charlotte of her plan, and then quickly brief Sara on what was expected of her. The girl, to her credit, asked few questions but merely nodded gamely. Charlotte helped her don gloves so that she maintained sterility, making a mental note to herself as she did so to properly instruct the girls at length when there was time.

    Carol took up a second Senn-Miller retractor and now used both hands to move muscle and tissue out of Andrea’s line of site. At a couple of points Andrea had to take up a chromic gut suture and tie off a bleeder that proved troublesome. One was a small artery that had been torn by the passage of the shot upwards through the leg. She prayed to herself that she not encounter anything worse, because aside from tying them off there was nothing else she could do. Repairing an artery was well beyond her skills, even if she knew how to do so in theory.

    The subcutaneous tissues appeared to be viable. They had a nice shiny color to them and they bled. Had the tissue not been viable it would have appeared as dull and it would not have bled. As she delved deeper she encountered a pocket deep in between the muscles that welled with dark blood and clots. This was at least part of the problem, if not the sole area of concern. Andrea flushed it profusely with a bulb syringe, squeezing it hard to apply firm pressure in order to wash out the clots.

    Finally, satisfied that she had done all she could within her skills to ensure the relief of the compartment on the lateral aspect of the leg she began her work on the medial aspect. She could hear occasional footsteps in the outer room and upstairs as the other patients were checked on and tended to, but her entire focus was on the man before her. Everything, his health and recovery, this aid station, even the future of the concept itself, depended upon her succeeding at the task that had befallen her by a quirk of fate.

    End Chapter XVI Part III
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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  27. #67
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    Chapter XVI Part IV

    Dateline: Virginia Aid Station

    Doctor Benize was frustrated. He was not used to working under field conditions, without his fiber optic scopes and a well-trained surgical team, and it was beginning to tell.

    His latest major case was not responding well to treatment. His intestinal wounds had been relatively minor, easily enough repaired if one didn’t mind a large abdominal scar and a prolonged recovery time, but it certainly wasn’t any worse than what he would have faced 20-odd years before. No, it was something else. Dr. Benize suspected that the man, who was approaching 60 far faster than he was hanging on to 50 years of age, might have another problem not related to his recent wounding or surgical repair. The good doctor sighed in resigned frustration. He did what he could for the men and woman that were presented for his care, but he could do nothing to change their motivations for choosing to fight.

    He had seen the look too often present in the eyes of some of these people once before, when a man he had once thought of as a loyal friend had several years before left the US to return to his native country during the last Arab/Israeli war. His wife, whom he had met when both were younger and newly arrived in the US, had been killed in a freak traffic accident. After that he had withdrawn and immersed himself in religious studies. When the war had erupted he called his friend the doctor and offered a cryptic goodbye. Dr. Benize had insisted on a final meeting at least, one last luncheon.

    As they sat there drinking strong coffee and picking at dates and couscous and roasted goat – a specialty of the little Arabic diner they had once favored in happier times – the doctor had noted in the eyes of the other a resigned sadness. He was vague about his plans, save that he felt that it was his destiny to return to the homeland and serve as he could. Nothing his friend could say would dissuade him. Dr. Benize never forgot the tortured look he saw in those eyes. He never saw nor heard from his friend again. The news reports indicated that the area he was returning to had been the scene of vicious fighting and significant casualties on both sides.

    He was reminded of this as he stared into the face of his patient during his last bedside visit. The man saw no future for himself, and had as a result decided to fight as he could, for as long as he might. Dr. Benize suspected that somewhere in the not-too-distant pass the man had been given a diagnosis that forced him to face his own mortality. Perhaps he, too, had lost someone he loved, and had decided as a result, that rather than undertake a long and painful course of treatment that he would spend his final months serving as he could.

    Elsewhere at the aid station others were fighting their own inner battles. Randy had grown more than weary of the constant whining and drug-seeking behavior of their resident militia-imposter. The man was using resources ranging from bed space to food, sterile dressings to IV antibiotics, all of which would be better used to aid someone who had actually been wounded or otherwise injured in the fight to throw off the invader and regain control of the USA.

    Sheryl, the ward nurse pulling duty again as she had every day for 11 days running, had been dutiful if not too gentle at changing the dressing to the back abscess. Twice-daily irrigation and wound packing was showing positive results. The purulent discharge was all but gone and now consisted of modest amounts of serous drainage. In her opinion it was time to kick the junky out onto the street, preferably a long ways away from both the aid station and the fighting.

    Taking a break for a much-needed cigarette Sheryl buttonholed Randy as he passed between the post-op and general ward tents.

    “Hey Randy, got a minute?”

    “Yeah, sure. You know those things will kill you.” He managed a mild smile as he offered this last comment.

    “If I have a choice between a gestapo bullet and these, I know which I’ll choose, thank you.” Finished for now with the butt she tossed it to the ground and stubbed it out with a colorful clog. “Any way, I wanted to ask you when you think we can cut the whiner free and send him packing. He’s got everyone on edge, and I’ve caught him trying to sneak into the supply cabinet again.”

    “Yeah, we were short, what, a couple of narcotics the other day?”

    “Two morphines. Good thing they were only 4 mg doses. If he’d reached back farther he’d have found the tens and we’d have a lot fewer doses to go around. Useless eater anyhow,” she offered with evident disgust.

    “Well, I won’t argue with that. He eats more than his share any way. He seems to think this is a Hyatt.” Randy shook his head as he recalled the frequent requests for sandwiches and sodas he’d been told of by the nursing staff. These on top of regular meals that the man often as not turned his nose up at. “He didn’t get anything this time did he,” he asked as an afterthought.

    “No, we’d put a padlock on the cabinet since the other day. He tried to pry it but one of the other men saw what was happening and started yelling at him. Donna came running in to see what the commotion was about and caught him behind the screen where we keep the cabinet. He claimed his urinal was full and he was looking for another one.”

    “Was it?”

    “You might say that. He’d pissed it in once and has been taking it outside to use as an ashtray when he smokes. Donna took it away from him, told him he could ask for it or take his carcass out back to the field latrine the staff uses.” The expression on her face said that she found nothing amusing about the incident. It was very evident just what she thought of the man.

    Randy looked thoughtful for a moment then decided on a plan of action. “Okay, as soon as we have a driver heading away from here let’s offer him a ride and dump him. Far away. I think Dale’s making a run tonight, after dark. Offer him Ambien 10 mg and a Trazodone 100 mg. If we’re right he’ll take them without any fuss. Once he’s asleep slip him 50 mg of IV Benadryl just make sure he stays asleep, or at least so groggy he won’t remember diddly, and then pull the heplock, load his butt up and haul it out of here.”

    “Randy,” Sheryl offered with a grin, “I like the way you think. For his sake he better hope he doesn’t wake up to find a Royal patrol staring down their barrels at him.”

    “If he does he’ll be so fuzzy they won’t take anything he says about knowing how to find us seriously. I just hope they conscript him into a road crew or something.”

    It might seem like a cruel way to treat a patient to some but both Randy and Sheryl had seen their share of drug seekers before the war and had known the frustration that came from trying to deal with their incessant demands for strong narcotics for imagined ailments and exaggerated pain levels. In this case there was a very real danger that their erstwhile ‘militiaman’ might try to compromise the security of the field hospital in a fit of anger once he discovered he’d been tossed out on his ear.

    Dateline: Marble Rock, Iowa

    Cedric had managed to work in a few extra visits lately, each time carrying in both fresh vegetables for the kitchen and new items for the little hobby shack on the back grounds. Just to make things appear legitimate he carried off a writing desk and a couple of boxes of old Life and National Geographic magazines. Extra copies, or ones he had read and found unworthy of keeping, he offered by way of explanation. He knew which ones Myrtle favored, and the rest? Well, he’d run across an antiquarian bookseller who’d offered a fair price for anything he’d care to part with. The writing desk? He’d found another one in better shape that was also a closer match to the one their grandmother (“On Mom’s side, mind you,” he’d added with a knowing wink) had kept in her house when they were kids. Oh, and if you’d not say anything to Myrtle he’d appreciate it, seeing as how it was intended to be a surprise, as soon as he could refinish it.

    Myrtle of course had been let in on the ruse from the beginning. Frail of body she might be nevertheless her mind was as sharp as it had been in her youth, when she had taught classical literature and mythology at a community college in Waterloo.

    The staff was completely oblivious to the true nature of the building’s contents. Cedric had hoped that they would never see use in his lifetime, but he knew well the proverb about wishing in one hand and spitting in the other and seeing which one filled first. With that thought in mind he began to spend time checking the various contents for readiness. He’d been careful to plan for moisture, installing moisture rods and silica packs throughout.

    Hugh Fitzsimmons had made a show of coming by for a visit during one of Cedric’s forays. Hugh was locally famous for managing to pull one over on a corporate bank back in the “80’s that had tried to foreclose on his debt-burdened farm. Exercising a great deal of foresight widely lacking amongst his brethren farmers at the time Hugh had placed the entire farm plot, buildings, his house and all permanent structures into an irrevocable trust way back in 1973. As a result, while they could confiscate his machinery and the results of that year’s harvest the bank could lay hands on not one single board or clod of dirt. When the legal dust had settled Hugh still had use of the same land and buildings his father had left him decades before when injury forced an early retirement. Leaving the land fallow for 3 years, meanwhile working it over with organic fertilizer (otherwise known as manure) and machinery borrowed from neighbors, Hugh took a factory job that put groceries on the table, provided health insurance and even required him to take 2 weeks off every year – with pay no less. At the beginning of the 4th year he took what savings he had accumulated and began farming once again. This time, however, he managed his funds very well, starting small and building as income from the crops came in late each year. Insecticides were done without and he could count on not needing to worry about fertilizer or anhydrous for a while, owing to his careful stewardship of the soil during the previous years.

    Hugh came back craftier and wilier than ever. His friendship with Cedric began during that same period, and two of them had been scheming, or so it seemed from their heads bent over the table several times a week at the local coffee hole, ever since. They still schemed, he and Cedric, but in ways no one who knew them would ever have imagined.

    As it turned out the little cabin behind the care center was but one such cache built by the two men. Hugh had a not dissimilar arrangement over at his own place, using a converted shed that had once housed chickens back when his father worked the land. It was his project shed, he claimed. A small machine shop was built inside and a modest number of interesting gadgets came out of it. Every so often Hugh would find an interested buyer and he’d reap a modest return on his efforts. Not enough to make a business of the shop, but enough to justify the time he spent out there along with the occasional purchase of a new machine tool or die.

    What lay underneath the shed was another matter. The hidden bunker was hardly part of the original plans when the shed was built nearly 70 years before. Carefully excavated over time it housed a machine shop quite unlike the one that a visitor might see in the shed above. The one above was seemingly benign and modest in scope; the hidden shop was much more complete and held storage for bar stock that had little application for the odd project that was built above. It also held much more than metal rods, bars and channel iron.

    Hugh had stumbled upon a company called Grizzly.com located in Springfield, Missouri who proved to be a treasure trove of metal working machinery, stock and tools. He made a trip over a long weekend to visit their showroom and warehouse facilities and was quite impressed with what he found, never mind their prices. The place was perfect, the sort that catered as much to the hobbyist as it did the industrial buyer. All the better to go relatively unnoticed in the greater scheme of things.

    He ended up purchasing a milling machine for cash, giving them a false name and address for the invoice. After riding home in his pick-up it found its way into his hidden machine shop. After a few false starts he was soon able to churn out serviceable receivers. More trips in the next couple of years netted more machinery, and eventually barrels and even magazines joined his receiver output. It was all trial and error but he persevered and eventually was able to turn out complete firearms, albeit with a little help when it came to stocks and furniture such as grips and fore ends. For those he visited gun shows and flea markets, and once had a little help from an acquaintance who made an annual trip to the Knob Creek, KY shoots before they were shut down only the previous year.

    By the time the unforeseen assassinations had come to be Hugh had enough parts to finish off a total of 87 long arms of .30 or larger. In the past couple of months he had managed to turn out parts to build 9 more receivers of a type that bore very close resemblance to the M1919A1 medium machine gun.

    End Chapter XVI Part IV
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

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  28. #68
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    Chapter XVI Part VI

    Dateline: Harper’s Ferry, Iowa

    “I don’t know about anyone else but I’m about ready to start gnawing on some of that shell corn we saw over yonder.”

    The speaker, Greg, was a semi-portly Guardsman from up-state Wisconsin. By a stroke of fortune he had been in the right place at the right time when the Royalist forces had made their strike at Fort McCoy. That meant when the sarge had made his decision to bust out with the humvee and everyone he could fit in or on it Greg had been one of the chosen few. Doubtless a few others made their own way out, but he was willing to bet his next paycheck – if there ever was one he added as a rueful thought to himself – they were too close to the Fort for comfort. At least he hadn’t seen any other vehicles making a break, though there were a few guys trying to make for the far fence and the woods beyond.

    The other two just nodded in turn at Greg’s off-hand statement. Their own belly buttons were starting to rub against their spines. No one had had more than a snack at best since they’d made their hasty escape from captivity or worse. There was water from an old fashioned hand pump sited atop a concrete well cover – a relic from the days when the farm still received it water from the local aquifer rather than from the now piped-in supply courtesy of the local rural water coop. It came out a bit brackish at first but quickly cleared up after a few more strokes of the handle. That didn’t mean it tasted good to their way of thinking, but at least it was drinkable. They hoped.

    After concealing the humvee they settled back for what they expected – had hoped any way – would be a wait of only a couple of hours or so. Sitting around soon gave way to boredom. There were only so many ways to look at one’s feet after all. Greg had been whittling aimlessly at a stick he’d picked up earlier, and now had a monstrous toothpick to show for his efforts along with a pile of slivers and shavings.

    Patrick, or Pat as his buds referred to him in person, sighed for the hundredth time. He tended to be the wit of his platoon, constantly cracking jokes and sarcastic one-liners as they carried out their duties back at the reservation.

    “Ya know, I was thinking about that, being hungry I mean. It’s not so bad. I figure I could last a couple days on water without having to cinch my belt.”

    Greg, who though he sensed a wisecrack coming still took the bait. “Speak for yourself, I’m still hungry, and I sure am not looking forward to playing Jimmy Cracked Corn with the contents of that crib over there.”

    Pat set the hook: “Greg ol’ boy, a proper starvation diet would do you good.”

    Sitting back in feigned anger Greg tried to defend himself. “I pass the PT tests. Besides, it’s all muscle, every last bit of it,” he ended, slapping himself on his not-entirely solid abdomen.

    Now Pat took the handle and started to reel his catch in. “That may be but it could have been set across the road to block pursuit while we fit 3 more guys in space you’d have freed up. And,” he hastened to add, “they’d have required a lot less to feed when the time does come.”

    Their until-now-silent companion hooted at the exchange; Pat had done it again. Greg could only shake his head, barely seen in the starry light, the security light too far away to cast more than faint shadows around them.

    The sound of an engine began to grow in the distance, rapidly approaching. They ignored it until it began to slow and the sound of tires turning into the gravel drive reached their now-alert ears. Unarmed as they were their first instinct was to hide, afraid they had somehow been discovered by who they imagined might be pursuing Arabs. Before they could decide upon where to seek cover the vehicle rolled into the farmyard and stopped, the engine idling for a moment before it was shut down. The sound of two separate doors opening greeted them.

    “Troops! Front and center!” The sound of Karl’s voice reached them from the direction of the recently arrived vehicle.

    Recognizing the voice of their sergeant the men quickly scrambled out of their position and were soon rejoined with their erstwhile leader and his friend.

    “’Kay, I know everyone’s hungry. We stopped and grabbed some grub on the way back. It’s cold but it’s still edible. I’ll bring everyone up to speed after you eat. Rock and I’ll stand watch meantime.” Too tired to argue, and bellies grumbling they dived into the sacks of sandwiches and Slim Jims. Belloc and Karl meanwhile took up a position off to the side where they could talk out of earshot.

    “I think we ought to let them rest up a bit, then light out before military dawn and head south. That way we can relieve the guys there with fresh boots so they can snag some shut-eye. God knows they’ll have plenty to do tonight with damn little chance of getting any meaningful rest,” Karl stated.

    Rock nodded in return, his hard-set visage highlighted by the security light across the yard from him, opposite the side Karl was standing on. “Makes sense. I’ll get them settled in the spare room and on the couch. May as well get some meaningful sleep, short as it’ll be. You can have my bed.”

    “What about you,” Karl asked.

    “I have a few things to do, supplies to gather and take back with us. The security around that place sucks, and right now it looks like it’s up to us to set it to rights.” He gave his hunting buddy a knowing look.

    “I see your point,” Karl responded. “Thumper carries her own piece, and we left the guys the AK’s, but that ain’t much between them. I didn’t notice anyone else carrying or acting like they had something stashed in a vehicle. Location alone isn’t always enough. Not to mention they’ve already got more patients there than the lady seems to have bargained for this early on.”

    “Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m not real tight with the folks what’re staking her so I can’t say what they have worked out in that way, but it looks to me like they are slow in setting up whatever it is they have planned. With the Royal Guard this close I’d feel better for everyone’s’ sake if we could establish a military cordon around the place.”

    “You have any more surprises stashed that you haven’t shown me yet?”

    Belloc just snorted. “Buddy, you’ve known me for years but you just don’t know me well. ‘Course I do. I’ll get things together while you and your men snag some rack time. Breakfast will be at 0500. I’ll wake you when it’s time.”

    After showing the others to the house and tossing pillows and blankets at everyone Belloc departed, leaving the others to their first real rest since the early morning battle back in Wisconsin.

    Dateline: On A Hillside Near St. Olaf

    “I dunno. There’s a lot of people down there. I can see them coming in and out of that one building there, the one with the light spilling out.”

    “What’re they doing,” Roger asked, his curiosity almost overwhelming him.

    “Looks like they’re carrying things. Unloading a truck mebbe. Least I think I can make one out, sorta backed in like. Can’t tell for sure.” Davey took the pocket binos away from his eyes, aware of Roger’s eagerness to have a peek for himself. “Here, tell me what you can see.”

    Roger eagerly grabbed the proffered lenses and held them up to his own eyes. It took a moment to locate the area in question in his field of view, the dim light offering few identifiable landmarks with which to orient his gaze.

    “There! I see it. It looks like…. uhh, just a minute.” Roger was silent and he tried to steady his arms. “There’s somebody having a cigarette, they just light up.”

    “Did you see what they look like, like if they were wearing a uniform,” Davey asked, suddenly not feeling quite right about this.

    “Nyaah, too quick, and he’s part way turned from me.”

    Davey thought on the implications of this news for a moment. “Okay, here’s what we can do.” Roger took the binocs away from his face and turned to his partner, an expectant look on his visage.

    “Let’s drop the packs here and sneak up close. We can come in through the trees and use them to hide behind. Maybe they’re talking and we can find out something about them.” Davey was in charge of the dual, and his decisions were law as far as Roger was concerned. It’d always been that way, just part of the natural order.

    “Sounds good to me. Maybe they’re Arabs and we can find out and warn the town before they make their attack.” Roger was already letting his imagination get the best of him.

    Davey gave him a not-quite-light punch on the upper arm. “You idiot. If they were Arabs why would they be clear out here? Especially when there aren’t supposed to be any within 500 miles of here,” his tone of voice one of derision. “’Sides, why’d they want to attack St. Olaf any way. We don’t have anything of military importance, not even a traffic light.”

    Shrugging in the darkness Roger admitted, “I dunno, just thought, well, you know. I just thought….”

    “Don’t think, Roger, just do as I do and follow me. And stay quiet!” The admonishment was delivered in a loud stage whisper to emphasize the point. Roger could be such a dunderhead sometimes.

    Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

    The stalling action was intensifying as the hasty blocking force sought to maximize the daylight remaining to their best advantage. Several more enemy combatants had been hit with disabling shots. Unintended though it was one of them had bled out before his comrades could come to his aid. One less to worry about down the road, though also one less burden to be carried.

    The laagered vehicle crews found themselves harassed remorselessly. They had the advantage of both better cover than their brethren within the town, plus the added advantage of the vehicles themselves, which were presumed in one case to be manned from within. The meager force opposing them dared not make any assault from the business side of the armored scout craft. A coax MG, never mind a round from a 90 mm, could ruin an otherwise perfectly good day.

    With the light fading fast the harassers contended themselves with what few area weapons they could muster. The pepper pots delivered via slingshot were once more employed, to the great discomfiture of the Royalists. They had by now discovered that they were facing nothing harsher than a riot agent and contented themselves with cussing their antagonists in a language that, while not translatable by same, at least left little doubt as to the meaning of their words. Some emotions effectively extend beyond language barriers.

    Atop the business building the watcher came to a decision. It was now dark enough that he could safely exit his perch and make his way along a previously scouted path to safety. And should any of the Royalist forces happen upon him… well, he did have the suppressed MP5 he’d purloined from his last employer. Knowing which way the department’s policies were likely to lean he found no remorse, secure in the knowledge that it would now serve a greater good rather than a lesser evil.

    Released by the watcher Payton had finished with his sniping and made his way around the perimeter of the town to a position that would allow him to aid his comrades in their interdiction of the AMX units. His heavier caliber rifle might punch a few holes where they would do some good. Behind him he left 4 wounded Royal Guardsmen or Loyalist troops. All would live but none would be effective combatants for a while. Maybe they’d be left to guard the vehicles while the rest made their planned for assault at their destination over to Iowa. Now that would be rich, he mused to himself. They’d be ripe for capture if that were the case, provided they were left any distance from their better enabled fellows.

    Darkness falling fast now the blocking force opened up with everything they had while withdrawing in a rough line to the west, conveniently circumventing the body shop area. The intent was to lead the Royalist forces away from town, drawing them away so the few remaining citizens could make their escape.

    On the eastward side of town the Royal Guard officer was finally beginning to calm, believing the few reports that had come his way that his men were finally prevailing, satisfied that the American bandits, as he preferred to think of them, had seen the futility of their attack on his superior forces. Consequently he ordered his drivers to man the trucks and begin what he saw as a triumphant advance. Unbeknownst to him a heretofore silent squad of patriots, held in reserve all this while, were forming behind him in order to give him a boost, lest he be tempted to tarry any longer than it took to grab his wounded and skedaddle.

    Riding on the running board of the lead truck our erstwhile commander saw the destruction met out by both sides. A building to the south lay in flames, the local VFW from whence the shot that disabled one of the AMX’es had come. Near it another building, some sort of small office, likewise was burning away. Across the square a frame structure showed evidence of a fierce assault, it’s front blown out. Wounded men were beginning to be gathered, while the vanguard of his remaining forces such as had not been goaded into chasing off after phantoms pushed what they thought to be an equal force in terms of numbers if not arms farther west. The battle for Goodland was over save for the shouting.

    “Backside, Blackguard.”

    “Backside, go.”

    “Out of the perch, making tracks.”

    “Roger that. Pushing hard. Watch who you pop at.”

    “Goes double here. Out.” The watcher was on the move, threading his way carefully through backyard gardens and peering carefully around garages to make sure his exit was unwitnessed. He spoiled for a fight but knew this was neither the time nor the place for one. Their mission here was all but accomplished. Once the enemy forces were pushed out completely and on their way towards their destination across the Mississippi they could breath easy. Until then caution was the word of the day.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    “That’s it. As far as I can tell we accomplished what we set out to do. Leadfoot, the rest is up to you and God.” Andrea sat back on her heels, a sheen highlighting her forehead.

    “Much ‘bliged, ma’am,” was the slurred response from her patient.

    Carol let out a sigh of exhausted relief. She’d been on the road for over a day now, and then to arrive at what had been a hoped-for refuge only to find herself thrust straight into an emergency field surgery…. well, a person could only go so far. The tension of the past hour was passing and with it her adrenalin rush.

    Charlotte looked over at her at the sound of the sigh. “You look like something the cat dragged in, dear. Why don’t you go find some place to rest and I’ll help Irene get our man settled for the night. Go on now, we’ll be fine.”

    Andrea added her own assurances that it was okay, that the worst was over and now all that remained was to get their last patient settled in to begin his recovery. Morning’s light would tell whether the leg was saved or not.

    “Jeanette, please see if the other room is ready yet.” A quick ‘Yes, ma’am,” and she was gone on her errand.

    “Sara, you and I will be staying up tonight while the others rest. Ruth will need to be up early to cook, since it seems we have a small army to feed, and I’d rather not start off by being known for inhospitality.” Both girls smiled at this, relieved to have a bit of levity injected in the situation.

    Then turning she addressed Charlotte. “Auntie, if you would do me the courtesy of making the rounds of our other cases and medicating them as necessary I’ll see about dressing the leg here so we can settle this brave man in for a well-earned rest.” She smiled at Leadfoot as she pronounced this last. For his part his eyes were closed and he seemed on the very edge of slumber. His face, however, gave evidence of feeling relieved.

    Jeanette returned to report that the other room was ready to receive their latest case. Andrea sent her to the shed to have some of the men aid with his transfer, and then turned to the matter of outlining a plan of care for Leadfoot as well as the hapless soldier who occupied what would be the neighboring bed.

    Her drafted labor soon reported for further duty. Leadfoot was picked up and moved using a 4-man carry with 2 persons on each side. Frederick and Mike took the opposite sides at the head end with Wendell and Raymond taking the other.

    Because the doorway was a narrower than the crossbars on the cot it was necessary to tip their load a bit to make it through. Andrea bustled about like a mother hen, cautioning everyone to be careful, oh so careful. The passage was made without incident, and then repeated a few feet farther on as they met the bedroom door.

    In spite of their exaggerated tenderness the freshly applied dressing was showing blood by the time they had reached the designated spot. Frederick held the leg partially aloft while Andrea quickly reinforced the dressing. In order to encourage clotting the dressing would not be disturbed until the following afternoon when Andrea planned to soak it off and inspect the wounds for signs of infection.

    Meanwhile, as soon as she could find them, her meager supply of IV antibiotics would be pressed into use now that they were available, somewhere amidst the haphazard collection of plastic totes and cardboard boxes.

    Dateline: Des Moines

    The midnight oil was set to burn early, a modest gathering of political types and the inevitable hangers-on gathered to formulate the arguments they would use to push the Governor into signing the executive orders they wanted to have in place so they could begin their long-awaited plans to effectively throttle in the freedoms still enjoyed by residents of the state of Iowa.

    Other states had already begun to rein in the common, everyday freedoms taken for granted. Unrestricted travel, toll-free interstate highway systems, the right to self-defense and others. Massachusetts passed a bill banning the private ownership of firearms by all save a very select few, who coincidentally happened to have very strong connections to the new government-in-power.

    The previous group of restrictions announced by a sneering Bob DeNiro was meeting with limited success. Several gun shops across the state had closed down, virtually unable to sell either firearms or munitions and unable to make ends meet selling accessories and services. Those that offered no gunsmithing on premise were particularly hard hit.

    The ultimate aim of the assembled group was to entice, cajole or otherwise coerce if necessary the Governor to enact draconian laws resembling those of the Venezuelan dictatorship of Mortillo, successor to Chavez following his widely publicized assassination by a group of ultra-radicals who were of the opinion Chavez was dragging his feet in the war on imperialism. If they succeeded Iowa would surpass even California for its intrusiveness into the private lives of its citizens.

    Mandatory fuel rationing, special road use permits sold at a high price for the “right” to travel the interstate highway system, an outright ban on the sale of 4WD vehicles for anyone who could not show necessity - being able to drive the kids to school across winter roads in safety was not considered proper justification – and even the government take-over of the pharmaceutical distribution system, to be modeled after the State Liquor Control Board model. Once in place the stated intent was to regulate the cost of medications so as to eliminate the price gouging of consumers by the big pharma retailers, so it was claimed. The reality was that, while some prices on name-brand products would indeed drop, sometimes significantly, the price of the average generic prescription would double or triple once the greedy politicos got their tenterhooks into the system.

    End Chapter XVI Part VI
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  29. #69
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    Chapter XVI Part VII

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    Two figures emerged from the shadows between the house and machine shed just as Wendell was carrying over yet another tote full of supplies that he thought might be needed. It was now near to midnight. They appeared to be short in height. Well, not exactly short per se but they certainly weren’t of average height for an American male. And they carried what appeared to be backpacks and long objects in their hands.

    Wendell’s response was to drop the tote, causing it to spill its contents onto the sparsely graveled farmyard, where it lay immediately forgotten. He quickly beat feet back to the illusionary safety of the shed, where the others were offloading the latest arrival as rapidly as possible so the driver could get back on the road.

    Panting softly with his latest exertions on top of a night spent lifting, handling, hauling and running between the buildings he blurted out a warning.

    “Company, carrying rifles. Outside.”

    The others quickly dropped whatever they had in their hands at the moment and scrambled to either take cover or to respond to the new threat. Only Wendell was armed - Ken had the other rifle and was stationed near the roadway with no way to alert him to the situation without tipping off their visitors - so he went first, others grabbing anything close to hand that might be used in defense.

    From the outside, in the direction of the trees from where the figures had appeared could be heard stage whispers. They were too faint to be made out save that the voices did not sound Arabic.

    Frederick spoke a challenge from the dark once everyone seemed to be in position: “Ya’ll best be tellin’ us who you are or we’re liable ta shoot ya fer cattle rustling.”

    The whispers stopped immediately. The ensuing silence seemed deafening. Then a halting, cracking juvenile voice pierced the gloom. “We’re lost. We were looking for our Aunt Irene’s place; she’s expecting us.”

    Heads turned in the dark as the assemblage looked at each other. Whoever it was they sure didn’t sound like troops. The long objects they held in their hands didn’t quite appear to fit the profiles of rifles either, though it was difficult to tell in the darkened distance.

    Frederick rose to the challenge, ever cautious. “Drop whate’er’s in your hands and walk to the building here.” An don’t try anything cute or ah’ll blast ya with a load a rock salt.” The threat was false as he didn’t have a shotgun and certainly wouldn’t have loaded it with rock salt if he did, but it seemed a safe bluff given the youthful voice. Even in this day and age a rock salt load would mean something to a kid bent on mischief.

    The two shadowy figures slowly emerged, coming forward until they were commanded to halt by the unseen speaker.

    They stood there, shifting from one foot to another, hands now empty, packs carried on their backs. Raymond headed forward, careful to keep from coming between them and Wendell.

    “Who are you and what do you want?”

    He could see now that he was dealing with a couple of teenage boys. They didn’t appear to be cowed but they were clearly confused.

    “Well, ummm… You see, we were camping out on the hill over yonder, and ran out of water. Aunt Irene said we could come by for anything we needed, and since we saw lights on we figured she was still awake and we’d come down.” Davey did the speaking, being the bolder of the two and faster on his feet when it came to thinking his way out of a situation.

    Frederick could now see who it was, and recognizing the boys addressed them as he came forward.

    “Davey, just whut in tarnashun did you think you wuz doing, comin’ outa the dark like that. Don’t cha know ya coulda got yerself shot er sumthin?”

    Recognizing the voice and figure in turn Roger now blurted out, “We checked it out, from the trees. We could tell you weren’t Royals and we were sent to help. Our folks know where we are.”

    Everyone was beginning to relax now, since it appeared Frederick knew the boys at least. But the news that they had been observed from the tree line, unbeknownst to them, was troubling to say the least. It showed just how vulnerable they really were, even hidden as they were from the roadway by another line of trees, the general remoteness of the farmstead itself, and their picket stationed along the roadway.

    “Wellll, slop buckets any ways.” Fredrick scratched his head as he puzzled through the news and its implications.

    The lack of communication between members of even the close-knit community group was fast becoming apparent. It appeared as though the right hand knew not what the left was doing.

    Davey took up the conversation again. “Grandpa sent us out to help unload the truck, said you’d need some hands. We set up camp where the folks from town could see the fire, and left it to feed itself so it’d look like we were still there, and then came over the fields to here. When we saw a bunch of people here we reconnoitered the area first before we grabbed our packs and walking sticks again. We were careful.”

    ‘Reconnoitered,’ Frederick thought to himself. He knew Davey was a smart cookie but he didn’t until now realize how smart he really was. Not only did he take the precaution of making sure what they were walking into, but he also knew the proper military term. Not exactly something that was taught in the local school, conservative as it was by the present day standards.

    “Wal, be that as it might you still took uh chance. Strangers here an’ all thet. Jist walkin’ up on strangers in the night these days jest ain’t thuh thing to a be doin’. That said and all, get yerselves in here and git to work.” His expression never changed but inside he was grinning from ear-to-ear. Cheeky kids, he thought. To them it was just an adventure after all.

    Dateline: Rural Iowa Near Boone

    Jeremiah was pleased with what he saw. Late in the hours of the night his followers had gone out and sought license plates, hit the 24-hour Wal-Mart for civilian clothes, and started to paint their erstwhile earth wagons in subdued colors.

    The news regarding their Nebraska-traveling contingent had steeled the resolve of the group. In their view there was no reason the group should have been attacked. They were the liberators, not the aggressors, so their self-image said. They saw themselves as a sort of freedom fighter coalition. They had differing areas of focus but shared one commonality: they were earth worshippers. There was no heavenly god; the only saints were those who gave their lives to saving the earth. Heaven was an abstract; to them heaven was nature itself, undisturbed, unpolluted, unvisited save by a very select few.

    The weapons they carried with them were eclectic. They were unprepared for true combat in any sense. They specialized in vandalism. They started fires, they wrecked equipment, and they spread spikes on roadways and gummed up machinery. Firearms were rarely ever used and few of the assemblage had ever trained with them.

    Jeremiah of course knew all of this. It was in fact essential to his plan. Though there was no way they could have known, not even suspected it, they were intended to be martyrs to The Cause. Romantic though that may sound The Cause was of very dark origins. They were meant to add to the blood spilled, the pain and suffering wrought. They were lost souls being prepared for the sacrifice.

    Dateline: Ottumwa

    It was late and the group had broken up for the night. Everyone had gone home to await word of whether or not their quick relief truck had made it through, or if it, too, had somehow been discovered. No one was sleeping well. Their years of planning, networking, gathering and meeting seemed to have come crashing down with their very first undertaking. None of them knew as of yet that despite the completely unforeseen setback suffered earlier in the day the supply truck had in fact gotten through, and even then the driver, wounded at the roadblock, was receiving much needed medical treatment at the very station they had agreed to make possible.

    The following day, come whatever may, they would carry on as they had before. New targets had been identified for acquiring yet more supplies. The group was well practiced but had never before recently attempted to procure anywhere near the volume of foodstuffs, fuels and other supplies that they had this day. Their success was a credit to years of planning.

    Over the course of some 15 years since the group had first been formed following a conversation springing up during a summer BBQ a number of people had come, and two had passed on. Another was resident in a care center where she spent her days playing bingo, listening to occasional speakers and sharing the latest gossip about what CNA was caught watching the soaps in a resident’s room rather than making their rounds, the latest on the young nurse’s pregnancy and whether or not Josephine would recover this time and came back from the hospital.

    She had been a valued member, her husband one of those who had passed on. She knew that should the world come to a near end that she could rely on other members of the group to rescue her rather than allow her to face abandonment by a staff that in general was anything but committed to those who relied upon them. Thus was the solidarity of the members, each and every pledged to look after one another whenever trials arose.

    One woman’s husband had joined the rebel cause, offering his experience as a military intelligence analyst. He would get word back to his wife or some of the others as time and circumstance permitted but there were nothing like regular reports. When he left he carried with him the certainty that the other members would see to his decades-long love’s well being no matter what may become of him. The knowledge allowed him to carry on his end of the fight against a government gone dark, and a foreign enemy who saw a chance to wreak vengeance for the wrongs they perceived as committed against them.

    The gathering of supplies had become a matter of routine over the years. One couple loved to travel and were well enough off that they could spend much of the year touring in their 23-foot motor home, behind which they also towed a toy hauler trailer. After a couple of months on the road they’d return, the trailer filled with assorted goods picked up hither and yon on their travels. Tools from years gone by, loads of canned goods from the salvage stores so popular in the southern states, camping and similar gear picked from garage and rummage sales they happened upon. The other members supported them and their gathering. It wasn’t uncommon for one or another to hand them a wad of bills after a meeting, saying something such as “Here’s $500. Why don’t you see what you can find while you’re down in Arkansas next month.”

    They weren’t the only such group to found across the US, of course. But they were the only such group that was well organized, well situated within their community, experienced and well equipped, and in a position to help Andrea and her cause.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    The dawn’s growing light brought with it the first close look at what had literally overnight grown from an obscure farm forgotten by anyone with pretensions to ownership to a functioning field hospital.

    Andrea didn’t get so much as a minute’s sleep, Ruth and Jeanette only a couple of hours by the time they managed to drift off. Sara stayed with Andrea, following her directions to the letter as they checked and rechecked their growing patient population. Leadfoot was the primary focus of their attention, then the wounded soldier beside him. The other patients were considered to be stable and only checked a couple of times. Oral meds for pain were offered and accepted. None of them required anything to help them sleep after that.

    Ruth arose by 0530 hours and immediately set to work in the kitchen. Andrea, beginning to feel the fatigue of 16 hours since she’d last rested, didn’t think to instruct her in any special diets for the patients. Today it did not matter. Making use of materials at hand Ruth managed to whip up a tremendous bowl of hotcake batter that would feed the grill until everyone was sated. Coffee brewed in 2 different pots in order to make sure there was enough for everyone to have at least a first cup before a new pot was set to boil.

    Rummaging through the food supplies that had thus far reached the ill-arranged pantry she found tinned meat suitable for frying, a can of Malkin’s jam – blackberry no less – and canned fruit. It wouldn’t win any awards as far as breakfasts went but it was what she had to work with so she ran with it.

    She was about to head back to her stove when she spied a familiar label. Reaching for it she found a can of sweetened condensed milk. Thinned with water it might make a suitable substitute for coffee creamer so she grabbed that too.

    Sometime during the night 2-burner propane had been located and set up on a counter top. A 20 lb. bottle set upon the floor fed it. Combined with an aluminum camp griddle she was set to cook. Eating utensils and plates were in short supply so they would have to be shared for now. An auspicious start to her first day as the official hospital cook.

    Charlotte and Diane awoke after a time, having spent the night in the motor home *** ambulance. They freshened themselves from the small lavatory built into the vehicle then presented themselves in the house to begin their duties. Knowing that Andrea had been up all night, along with Sara, they decided between themselves that it was time to rotate duties and allow the two exhausted workers to grab some sack time themselves.

    Andrea was just completing a dressing change on Leadfoot’s leg, aided by the attentive Sara, when they arrived. From the kitchen came the smell of brewing coffee.

    “How’s our boy doing this morning,” was Charlotte’s introduction as they entered the room.

    Andrea looked up just as she was finishing with the wound packing, her hands clad in sterile gloves, while Sara held a cardboard flat that served as a tray to hold the supplies at the ready.

    “His vitals are good, the drainage is moderate and serosanguinous, and his pain is controlled though not eliminated. He’s been sleeping most of the night. I’d like to encourage that as much as possible for the next day or two.” Andrea appeared as exhausted, her hair hanging limply in a loose ponytail. Sara was fresher looking but clearly in need of her own rest.

    “How about the other one,” Carol asked, indicating the wounded soldier with a motion of her hand.

    “I gave him 2 of Dilaudid along with 25 of Phenergan about an hour ago. He seems to be resting easier. There are no signs of infection yet, and I’m praying it stays that way.”

    “How much Keflex do you have,” Carol continued.

    Andrea looked thoughtful for a moment then replied. “I should have 8 or 9 doses in IV form, several hundred in oral. Are you thinking we should start our other patient here on it?”

    “Hmmm. No. That is, if you happen to have any injectable Rocephin.”

    Andrea brightened at this. “As a matter of fact that is the one antibiotic in injectable form, other than the penicillins, that I do happen to have a good stock of.”

    Carol nodded in a decided manner. “Good. Now the next question: Do you have any 50 ml saline bags, and any piggyback tubings?”

    “I have both,” was the reply. “But, it’s for IM injection. Do you think IV will be okay?” Andrea’s look was querulous.

    Carol shook her head in the affirmative. “Yes, mixed in a saline bag and given slowly there is problem. I’m thinking a 3rd generation cephalosporin would be a good choice in this case, better than Keflex for the most likely opportunistic infections.”

    Charlotte spoke up now. “There was a tub labeled Antibiotics.”

    Andrea nodded in the affirmative. “Yes, it might be in there. You’ll need to get into the other tubs for IV supplies. They’re pretty mixed up I’m afraid but I did pack the piggyback tubings with the small bags.”

    “Okay, ‘Irene,’ I’ll find them and get them going. Then you, my dear, are going to grab some serious sleep, along with this young dear.”

    “But…” Andrea started to reply.

    “No buts, dearie. We can handle things here and you are about dead on your feet. This place is a long way from being ready, but that can’t be helped now.” Drawing herself up to her full 5’ 5” height the matronly woman turned and exited the room in search of the needed supplies and medications.

    Carol put her hand on Andrea’s arm in a soothing manner. “Why don’t you let us take over now? You and your assistant need some rest if you are going to remain effective. The boys and I can remain another day to help out. It’s the least we can do since we’ve added to your workload.”

    Andrea nodded and stood up from her kneeling position beside Leadfoot’s cot. She looked over to her other patient, and then apparently resigning herself to the inevitable she addressed Sara.

    “They’re right. I’m at least used to this work, but you aren’t, and you already traveled a ways yesterday just to get here. Just leave the things here under the cot and head upstairs and get some sleep. I’ll be close behind you.”

    While all of this was going on the men outside were gathering for the day’s work. The auto parts truck had been unloaded and was long since departed. The semi trailer load, however, remained well less than halfway offloaded. There was a lot of work ahead of them but with a new pair of strong, willing young arms as well as the other Guardsmen newly arrived within the past hour there was plenty of muscle to share the load.

    Sunrise had officially broken an hour before, making natural light available. With the skylight panels in the roof of the shed it was now possible to see into all of the corners, and to begin sorting boxes and other items as they were removed from the trailer.

    Andrea took the time to step outside onto the back porch for a breath of air and a smoke before she assumed a prone position for a few hours. The past 16+ hours had been more difficult than her worst shift of running the hallways at any hospital for 8 or even 12 hours. No trauma case that ever presented to the ER during her time there, no Code on the floor, no rapidly failing patient had ever challenged her skills and mental toughness as the previous evening and night had.

    She had treated not one but two major cases, performing emergency surgery on one. With that one procedure she had placed at risk everything she had ever worked for, all her education and years of experience, countless thousands of hours spent practicing her chosen occupation. What had begun as a sincere desire to benefit the inevitable wounded and maimed from the eastern battles had turned into a near nightmare literally overnight.

    Of the two serious patients one remained more or less comatose for reasons she could only begin to imagine, and asking for outside help just wasn’t in the picture. If infection could be kept at bay his chances of recovery from the burns was excellent, though there would be significant scarring, of course.

    As for Leadfoot, ‘that dear, dear man,’ she thought, ‘ who’s risked so much for this project.’ She could only hope and pray that nothing she had done would decrease his chances of a complete recovery. Even then, if she had done well, he had a long road ahead of him. He’d require physical therapy at a minimum. Assuming that no infection set into the leg and the exposed bones. There were also the wounds to the foot that she had barely addressed save to clean out and dress for the time being. She suspected tarsal fractures as a further complication.

    A new day has dawned, she thought to herself as she gazed across the overgrown yard that intervened between her and the small, untended orchard. It was like awakening from a bad dream and finding out it wasn’t just a dream after all. It was a new, harsh reality.

    End Chapter XVI
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  30. #70
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    Chapter XVII: More Than Meets the Eye

    Patriot Aid Station Chapter XVII: More Than Meets the Eye

    Dateline: USA

    There was an almost eerie silence coming from Washington these days. It was as though it was holding its breath, waiting to see what would come next.

    Hillary Boxer was busy scheming. Her vision of a new America bent to her will was not coming to be. She increasingly felt as though she was a de facto prisoner within the halls of the White House. It was only for her personal safety, she was assured. After all, there were Rebel elements to be found everywhere, even within the borders of D.C.

    Last week there had been a raid on a small depot on the outskirts of the city, not far from Fort Myer. Casualties had been light but several cases of otherwise officially undescribed materials had been taken by the raiders. What was known by the officers at the depot but unadmitted was the actual tally of missing arms and munitions: eight SAW’s along with a case of M-67 fragmentation grenades, several ammo packs for each of the machine guns and several cases of .223 ammo loose in tins. The raiders had known what it was that they were seeking, and evidently set their sites on high value items such as they were capable of carrying off in one swift motion. The theft of the weapons weighed heavily upon the minds of those who knew the extent of the loss. They could not help but wonder where they would turn up, doubtless in use against their former erstwhile owners.

    The stock market was open for limited business once again, with strict controls and automatic cutoffs that would shut trading down for the day if there was too much activity in either direction, up or down. Many a pension plan had already been ruined, and formerly solid-seeming firms tottered on the edge of a financial abyss.

    One unforeseen benefit of the turmoil was a resurrection of the American automotive industry. Japan, unwilling to risk the loss of hundreds of millions in new car inventories, had called a halt to further exports to the US. In a couple of instances ships already at sea when the decision was made were turned back. In another week’s time the vehicles were being offloaded in China where they would be offered at fire sale prices if only to lessen the financial blow.

    The result was that Ford was beginning to show signs of awakening from its deep slumber, and even Chevy, nearly ruined in recent years, was now seen as the patriotic choice in new vehicles amongst moneyed buyers residing outside the active conflict areas. Sales of European cars fell off rapidly, in part due to resurgence in patriotism but also because the asking prices were suddenly beyond the reach of payment-strapped Americans who belatedly discovered that they could not tap their investment accounts with money market access erratic at best.

    Interestingly enough crude oil shipments from the Middle East not only were unaffected but the prices were trending lower very rapidly. The price of light sweet crude was descending towards $55/barrel for the first time in years. A few of the conservative talk radio shows expressed the opinion that it was part of a grand scheme aimed at convincing America that the Arabs really were our friends, and if we’d only allow them to come to our aid we would all prosper. Sadly, some Americans were openly agreeing to this school of thought. In reality it was the lack of futures market pressures on the price of crude that was causing the price to drop so precipitously.

    The trade deficit also showed signs of beginning to balance itself as an increasing number of companies refused to ship products to the US owing to effective closure of some east coast seaports. With the advent of container ships too large to transit the Panama Canal the cost of shipping around the Cape Horn as an alternative made the price of doing business prohibitive in a market sharply reduced. The huge container ship port in the Bahamas filled to near capacity before inbound shipments were drastically reduced in response to the falling demand. Trade with China, long the increasing bane of small American companies, had fallen off sharply as the large eastern seaboard markets underwent a severe contraction. The easy credit of past years - already on the wane since the market corrections of 2007 and later was fast becoming a thing of the past. Faux Gucci purses and fake Rolex watches had little place in a society that was discovering there was more to survival and being seen wearing the correct accoutrements.

    Precious metals were becoming the money of choice in some areas of the country. In others the wealthy tried but failed to trade their gold watches, sterling dinnerware and precious stones mounted in jewelry in return for the debts they could no longer pay because of lack of access to funds long tied up in trusts and other financial vehicles intended to safeguard them. Coinage had intrinsic value but who knew how much gold, silver or platinum was actually contained in that cocktail necklace, tennis bracelet or tea service? Shrewd pawnbrokers happily took such offerings for pennies on the dollar – they too found themselves short of actual cash and checks were beginning to be refused if they were drawn on banks situated well within the contested areas – and melted down the furnishings of the Fifth Avenue townhouses and Georgian estates, having them formed into numbered ingots of known weight and purity - in most instances. As with any such times there were fraudulent merchants to be found everywhere.

    Gasoline, in spite of falling crude prices, continued to rise in cost. An enterprising hitchhiker could ensure themselves of a ride if they carried a gas can with them. A gallon of regular meant anywhere from 15-42 miles for which the driver wouldn’t have to sit in the increasingly long lines. For a commuting worker who lived within a reasonable distance that meant that the frustration of a visit to the gas station could be put off another day or two or perhaps longer yet. It was beginning to look like 1973 all over again as far as the lines. The prices, however, were another matter entirely.

    Dateline: Kentucky/Tennessee Area

    Nate took the bullhorn in hand and raised it into position.

    “Attention inside the compound. You are completely surrounded by a large and very hostile force. We are well armed and have numerical superiority. You have 2 minutes to surrender or face annihilation. We are not open to negotiation on this matter. This is your only warning.”

    Other members of the assault force versed in those languages repeated the message in French and German. It was assumed (correctly) that some members of the opposition forces spoke one or the other well, so in an effort to avoid needless bloodshed it had been decided to demand surrender in such as way as to avoid the possibility of the message not being understood. A bloodless coup was always preferable from the attacker’s point-of-view. As it was argued during the planning stages of the assault the patriot forces could claim the moral upper hand all the way around if they were able to pull off a bloodless surrender.

    There was nary a sign of recognition from within the beleaguered compound. No faces appeared in the few windows, no door opened to allow exit of a spokesman. Taut faces checked and rechecked timepieces and watches as the seconds ticked by. 30 seconds passed since the second translation. Then 60. Still no sign of life from within the compound.

    Marksmen welded cheeks to buttstocks, firming up sight pictures. Breathing became slowed and deliberate. Grips on forestocks were minutely checked and rechecked and steady pressure applied to triggers in anticipation of a crisp let-off.

    From within the compound came the sound of a faint squeak, as if a metal door in need of lubrication were being ever so slowly opened. But no discernable movement was witnessed by any of the watching assault force. The sound was not repeated and it had not been possible to identify the exact location from which it emanated. From without eyes glued to telescopic sights searched frantically for any sign of movement that might indicate an impending breakout attempt on the part of the force inside the compound’s main building.

    Video recorders had been staged around the contested area, the better to capture the action from several angles so as not to miss anything of importance. This, too, was the result of the arguments that had taken place before the assault plan was finalized. The Boxer administration, with more than a little complicity from the mainstream media, had been trying to paint the patriot forces as unrestrained criminals bent on topping the atrocities committed by the Axis forces during WWII. One especially liberal wag, picking up on the general theme, went to far as to suggest that given the opportunity the Rebel forces would emulate the atrocities committed by Josef Stalin on his fellow countrymen.

    More sounds emerged from within the compound. There were thumps and bangs, the sounds of heavy objects being moved inside the main building. One watching and waiting would-be assailant made an off-hand observation to the man lying prone next to him:

    “They’re barricading themselves inside. Guess we’re in for a fight after all.”

    The other nodded. He wasn’t disappointed even if the leaders of the assault were. He merely reformed his cheek weld and concentrated on the front sight of his Kar-98, his choice of weapon for the battle. The rifle was an experienced veteran of the Balkan campaigns of the 1940’s, though its owner had no way of knowing it’s precise history, only that the somewhat worn lands and grooves showed that it had seen its share of battlefield use in the past.

    The time given the beleaguered force came and went. Reluctant to commence what he knew in his heart would be a slaughter Ante tried one more time.

    “Attention the compound,” he shouted, his voice amplified by the battery-operated bullhorn “borrowed” from a local high school. “You have 10 seconds to surrender or face total annihilation.”

    The only reply was another heavy scraping sound from within.

    Another of the leaders of the assault force muttered as much to himself as to anyone within earshot. “Time’s a come to get to a fighting’.”

    Nate huffed out an unconsciously held deep breath, then turned to his radio operator – the force’s radio network consisted of a couple dozen tweaked GMRS radios that offered a modicum of privacy but were anything but totally secure if there was any chance the opposing forces had even civilian level channel scanning capability – and gave him a message to be passed along.

    “Stick to the plan. 10 seconds of barrage fire then cease and await further orders.”

    The message was duly passed on and acknowledged by several squad leaders. Within 3 seconds a ragged tattering of fire from a couple of angles was joined up by a deluge as everyone within range cut loose on the main building, the APC’s and anything that lay in front of the assault force.

    Hundreds of rounds issued from anything that could fire a cartridge, ranging from humble .22’s to a couple of .50 calibers and everything in between. .223 and 7.62 x 39 were the favored calibers but .243, .270, .308, 30.06, 7.92 mm and others were reasonably well represented. A few of the assault force were hoping to up-gun themselves with the spoils gained by the defeat of the occupying force, not the least bit uncommon when indigenous people find themselves besieged by a foreign invader. While it was true that the park had been “protected” by the umbrella of a World Heritage designation since the 1980’s it was only within the past year or less that the “protectors” had assumed the role and capabilities of a military garrison.

    The mad minute lasted less than 20 seconds by the time the squad leaders were able to get the cease fire order – amazing when one considers the amount of pent-up frustration and outright buck fever endemic amongst the local forces.

    When the firing ceased a witness to the devastation wrought would have been hard pressed to say that they could believe that anyone inside might have survived. Holes penetrating the building numbered in the hundreds, in some places appearing as gaping rents in the sheet metal siding. They were arrayed in height from near ground level to halfway up the sloping roof panels. A casual observer would have believed any statement to the effect that anyone standing or sitting, and perhaps even laying flat upon the floor, would have been hit one or more times.

    From within the main building came a low cry of painful anguish. At least one person had survived the onslaught, though from the sound of things they were anything but unwounded.

    End Chapter XVII Part I
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  31. #71
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    Chapter XVII Part II

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    Breakfast was well received by everyone able to eat. Even Leadfoot had been successfully induced to take a few ounces of slightly watered-down condensed milk. It was nutrition in condensed form, Charlotte was seemingly eager to tell anyone within earshot. Privately she was thinking to herself that so long as he was able to keep it, or anything else for that matter, down, it was a good sign. His quiet snores returned within 2 minutes of being awakened for his “meal.” During the night the bloody mess that had managed to flow off of the hastily cast down Chux onto the floor had been mopped up by the good old application of elbow grease applied by a scrubber on their knees.

    Upstairs Andrea and Sara slept deeply, oblivious to the activity being carried out below them. In the outer rooms other patients slept as well, eager for rest after their long journey from the eastern states. Even the smells wafting up from the kitchen could not stir them. No sleep aids were required, only the safety of a bed that did not offer the motion and bumps and jars of the road. They remained oblivious to the drama that had unfolded literally beneath their feet as they sought the comfort of the healing somnolence that had eluded them during their journey to safe haven.

    In the machine shed the workers were taking well deserved break from their activities, allowing their breakfast a bit of time to begin the process of digestion. The frantic activity of the night before was beginning tell. Even the boys, full of youthful enthusiasm, were showing wear.

    In the side room off the kitchen was a growing stack of plastic totes and cardboard boxes filled with medical goods. More yet sat piled in the pantry awaiting sorting into some semblance of order. There was a lot of work that needed to be done yet before the erstwhile hospital was ready to care for the unexpected load of patients who had started to arrive days before it was intended to welcome the first.

    Frederick had taken off for town before military dawn rose pale on the horizon. His absence from his usual haunts might be missed so he’d given instructions to Davey and Roger and then driven off in his rattletrap pick-up. There was work to be done back at home in any case. He’d report the boys’ safe arrival to their parents and Davey’s grandfather while making his way about town, the better to be seen casually engaged in the dull routine of his life by those whose interest might be piqued were it to appear otherwise.

    Wendell had been fortified with coffee and campfire toast before resuming his guard position overlooking both the road and the driveway.

    While he was away from his post for a break Mike filled in. He wasn’t a soldier by training but he knew which end of the rifle the bullets came out of and was a fair shot as proven by his invariably filling his annual deer tag in his home state of Pennsylvania. He knew that his duties as a medic were more than a little important but he felt that whatever he could do to assist in the defense of the field hospital out east, and now the converted farm as long as they were there, was something else to be done towards the winning of the war. Once Wendell was again up to another stint of standing guard Mike wolfed down his own breakfast of fried canned meat on toast, fortified with strong coffee, and then headed back to work.

    Charlotte, that indominitable paragon of nursing efficiency, bustled about, directing the actions of anyone within her sight. Between her and Carol they began to set some semblance of order to the aid station. Boxes were torn open to inspect the contents, then ferried to one room or another. As supplies came to light that would be needed throughout the day and coming night for their two serious cases they were carried into the other room and placed judiciously nearby, sorted between the two patients.

    The boys formed a 2-person running squad, detailed to whatever task was most immediately to hand. Under Charlotte’s direction they toted box after box, tub after tub, between the porch, the back room, the pantry, and even a few of only very passing importance up the steep stairs to one of the rooms there not otherwise occupied.

    Other than IV fluids, dressings, and medications for the patients the most pressing needs centered around the need to feed not only the patients but the workers, who at present outnumbered them 2:1, with more due to arrive any time.

    Charlotte quickly decided that Andrea’s earlier placement of medical supplies in the pantry would not do, would not do at all. The situation had changed and there was no longer time to work one’s way up from basic to complicated.

    Ruth’s advice was sought as to what she wanted available for luncheon and supper later, with a couple of general suggestions tossed in by Carol as to what might fit best with Dan - their belly case upstairs - and everything that fit her parameters was hastily piled in a semi-out-of-the-way corner for quick access in coming hours.

    Then, beginning with the topmost shelves the pantry was repacked in organized fashion, with different shelves designated for canned, dry, loose packs and bulk goods. Coffee, which would become a staple item regardless of the patient load and acuity, rated an entire shelf of its own, along with powdered creamer.

    Ruth handled the situation well but inside she was wondering how she would ever get things organized enough to meet the huge demand suddenly thrust upon her. She would find that the Amish work ethic would stand her in good steed in days and weeks to come.

    Charlotte took out a moment every now and then to begin Jeanette’s hasty instruction in the why’s and how’s of basic nursing assisting. Grabbing a large adult manual BP cuff and a stethoscope she first introduced her to the basics of vital sign assessment, offering her own plump arm as the test model. After several trials she was convinced that Jeanette could obtain an accurate BP on a normal-tensive patient, as well as count the pulse using the radial, carotid and medial and anterior pedal arteries. She also had her practice obtaining a respiration count, deliberately varying her rate, without having to count for a full 60 seconds. While a full minute count was the most accurate there were times that quick but reasonably accurate estimate was called for.

    Dan – the injured Guardsman – was tended to and fussed over almost as much as was Leadfoot. He was showing increasing signs of conciousness but seemed to be reluctant to come fully to and thus experience the full pain of his injuries. He was given 1 mg of morphine every 2 hours via his IV line to maintain a semblance of pain control, lest it break through his semi-coma and he awaken screaming. As it was he moaned a low, gutteral note every so often, stirring on the cot. One IV had been saline-locked off. The other ran on as before, continuously replacing the fluids lost through the burns. They were now in the ¼ volume over 8 hours stage, hence the lack of need for the 2nd line being active.

    Amidst the entire flurry Charlotte was suddenly possessed of an idea. Turning to Carol, who happened to be next to her for a minute, she addressed her.

    “Carol, how long can you and your boys stay?”

    “Well, I…. that is….” Carol seemed taken by surprise at the question, though as she reflected for a moment she realized she shouldn’t have been.

    “To be honest we had hoped to drop off the patients, grab some sleep and then head back, ideally with some supplies for the hospital. We ‘should’ be heading out within the hour, if we were to stick to our original schedule. But,” she hastily added, “We didn’t expect to run into anything like this. I’ll need to get in touch with our people out east though.”

    “So you can stay and help for a couple of days then,” Charlotte pressed.

    Carol looked thoughtful for a moment then replied. “It depends. I’m game, and I’m sure the guys are as well, but it really depends on what the situation is back east. I was only along to see how things would work out time wise, etc. We are so short of nursing personnel it isn’t funny.”

    “I understand,” Charlotte replied. “I have a way to get word out there and back, though it won’t be direct and it may take a few hours the first time.”

    Carol nodded. “If they can spare us, or more to the point, spare me, then I’m game as I said. It doesn’t look like you folks are in any way ready for more stretcher cases anyhow. Not yet.”

    Charlotte offered a quick ‘wait here’ and hustled into the other room, only to return a moment later. Throwing back the pages of the legal pad she’d retrieved she began to rough out a graph. Names went on one side, time blocks on another axis. Then satisfied with the hasty results she threw that page back and began another of the same pattern, altering only the names on the vertical axis.

    After a couple of minutes she finished her task, and Carol stood by, looking on with growing curiosity.

    “Alright, what I’ve done is draw out a duty schedule for the next couple of days,” Charlotte began. “We’re up to our eyeballs in patients already and we haven’t even officially opened for business. Not that your people are in any way to blame, that was a communications problem down the line,” she hastened to add.

    “I’m listening,” Carol responded.

    “Okay, Irene (Andrea) has herself and the 3 girls for staff. Everyone else is temporary at best, including me. I’m supposed to be gone to a funeral then I have to report back to work. If I don’t it’ll raise questions that I … we… don’t want to answer.” With this last pronouncement Charlotte’s face adopted a worried appearance.

    “I’m with you so far,” Carol replied.

    “So I’m thinking we need to maximize ourselves for the next couple of days so that the place can be run on a bare bones staff until we can recruit more personnel.” Charlotte looked distracted for a moment as she gazed at her graphs, then a thought seemed to occur to her.

    “What I’m thinking,” she began slowly, “Is to make use of the extra help we have, while it’s here. Me an’ you and the two EMT’s cover the patients. Have the men and boys sort and stack and whatever else needs to be done in the way of getting things sorted, and have Irene direct the operation. She’s running the place any way so she needs to know where things are as well as have all the answers. Just like a floor Charge. Ya know what I mean?” Her face conveyed a look that said “I hope you are following along with my thinking.’

    Carol crossed her arms in a defensive posture before responding. “Sooo…. “

    “Sooo,” Charlotte replied, “We – meaning you, me and the guys, do everything that doesn’t require playing surgeon. Give Irene a break so she can take care of other things. The Amish girls need to be trained and we don’t have a lot of time or training materials to do it with. But we’ll do what we can as we can, and the rest we’ll have to leave to Irene.”

    Charlotte paused for effect then continued. “Right now we have 6 cases, only 2 which need anything more than follow-on. Irene’s got a plan for this place that only she knows. She was supposed to have time to put it in action, only things didn’t work out that way.”

    She held up her hands to ward off any objection just as Carol began to unfold her arms to offer one.

    “Carol, you didn’t do anything wrong and neither did the soldiers. If anyone did it was me bringing Leadfoot here without any warning. It was a risk. I knew that and so did he.”

    She swallowed hard, as if recalling the decision made yesterday. “But we were desperate. The police are looking for a truck driver matching his description already. If anyone turns up anywhere in this state or the next one with any sort of gunshot wound they’re gonna be checked out. Leadfoot would have been arrested and our entire project compromised, and more than likely the network, too.”

    Carol looked contemplative for a moment then replied. “And by the network that means my people out east in Virginia as well, since communication obviously extends that far.” Charlotte nodded in the affirmative.

    Letting out a distinctive whoosh of breath Carol turned her eyes toward the ceiling. “Oh gawd, we just dodged a bullet, didn’t we?”

    Charlotte managed a very wry smile at that. “Some of us did, hon, yeah. But we’re here for the ones who don’t.”

    Swallowing hard Carol asked “What’s to keep us from being compromised in the future?”

    “We’re in what the doctors call the critical phase, dear. Until we get the supplies and people moved in we’re like a confused old man running down the hallway in his gown, backside open to the wind and anyone looking. Until we get some clothes you might say we are prone to discovery.”

    Carol just nodded to indicate she was listening.

    Charlotte continued. “Moving as much as we did in one shipment like that was a risk we were willing to take. Since the station here didn’t exist before last night no one would have any reason to be looking for a supply truck. The authorities still don’t know what was in the semi. They’re just looking for a truck driver who could be an important link to anything from the rebel forces to a string of unsolved serial murders. They know he ran but they really don’t know why. For all they know he was smuggling meth on the side, and ran off when it looked like he may be discovered. As things are I’m pretty well sure once they learn the trailer is completely unknown to the feed company they’ll really rack their brains. That just adds to the problem. Which may not be a bad thing after all,” she added with a mysterious air. “As far as they know there is almost no Rebel activity here in Iowa so we’re hoping they’ll set their thinking towards other things. All the better to take the heat off us.”

    “Now, what with the other truck that got through – in case we didn’t – we’re better off than we thought we’d be at this stage, but we also have these patients, none of whom - not one – was supposed to be here yet. But messages get jumbled during normal times and sweetie, these ain’t normal at all.”

    Charlotte’s continuing arguments proved to be persuasive and Carol was finally convinced to remain with the rest of her team for a couple days longer. Meantime Charlotte’s people would see to it that a message was sent back to the field hospital back in Virginia explaining the delay, assuring them also that the crew and patients had arrived safely. Oh, and by the way, hold off sending any more patients for a few days until matters could be set to right.

    The remainder of the day was a flurry of activity. Once she awakened from her too-short slumber Andrea directed the sorting and stowing of literally several tons of supplies. Much was carried over to the barn and set against the walls for further sorting later. It was her plan to establish a large ward area there for the less serious cases. For now, however, that would have to wait until she had received the promised additional staff. Where they would come from she had not a clue, but Charlotte’s people had assured her that they would be forthcoming.

    The boys did yeoman service and more than acquitted themselves for their unplanned arrival the night before. It seemed to those observing that Davey and Roger were in a race to see who could make more trips and carry more materials and supplies, as if there would be an award for the winner.

    Close to noontime Belloc and Karl returned with the rest of the troops, all well rested save Karl himself, who’d only managed to snatch a couple hours after first hitting some of his other stashes around the farm. With them were enough small arms to equip all the soldiers along with a couple of spares for anyone who might show up later. Two tins of 7.62 x39 ammunition were provided to feed the pieces, along with enough magazines and carry pouches to satisfy any immediate requirements. Karl had made oblique reference to other “specialty” items but added that they would have to wait for a later time. He did, however, see to the provision of a few trip flares and a quad of sound-powered field phones. They would be useful when they set up sentry posts around the perimeter of the farmstead and to guard the approaches that couldn’t be placed under direct observation.

    Belloc almost immediately set about establishing a security cordon around the immediate area. A small woodland camo pattern blind was retrieved from Karl’s truck – brought along specifically for the purpose – and a listening and observation (LP/OP) post was set up in the fir trees that bordered the road and sheltered the house and environs from direct observation from the road. While hardly ideal for the purpose owing to the non-matching pattern it nevertheless was an improvement. Only a person deliberately looking for something oddly out of place would notice the odd coloration amidst the vertical and horizontal flow of the pines.

    One of the sound powered phones was set in the LP/OP for the guard to use, another strung back to the kitchen area and connected to the first. Still another would be set in the barn and the 4th situated at another LP/OP yet to be established, which would guard the rear approach to the farmstead.

    End Chapter XVII part II
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

    http://medtech.syrene.net/forum/

    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  32. #72
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    Formerly Iowa - now western Arizona
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    Chapter XVII Part III

    Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

    The road into town being clear the Royalist officer was set to make his grand entry. His forces had gathered their wounded and a flare shot skyward to let his pursuing forces know it was time to return and remount. He was somewhat uneasy at being separated from the two AMX’s and their firepower. He did not yet know of their losses, only that they were reported to be laagered in across town and fending off weak sniper fire.

    Behind him the until-now silent squad moved into their previously chosen positions, and as one let fly with a barrage of fire upon the idling trucks. The effect was immediate, the raghead officer starting to scream out orders to move forward into the relative safety of the town’s buildings.

    The ensuing rush for cover by the vehicles resembled a poor rendition of a demolition derby, with trucks attempting to bypass their slower brethren just as their drivers found the gas pedal and lurched forward. There was nothing orderly about the retreat, nor the attempt at return fire on their attackers from the rear by the few troops who had stayed behind as a security force for the trucks and their wounded companion warriors. A fender was crunched, a headlight knocked out and virtually all of the able-bodied troops in the back – what few there were – were tumbled about, their aim shaken to the point that no one down-range was in actual danger of being hit save by mere chance.

    “اسرع انت ابن عاهره بدوي ، أسرع!” [Faster you son of a Bedouin whore, faster!] The officer was almost beside himself with rage and slipped back into his native language, adding to the confusion. The driver of his vehicle happened to be a native Farsi speaker and was familiar with Arabic only in passing. While the insult escaped him the general meaning was not lost and he ground the pedal down further, straining an engine already well past due for maintenance. The motor responded in a choppy, hiccupping fashion as it sought to respond to the sudden flood of raw fuel.

    The ragged convoy of trucks roared their way through the town, with Loyalist soldiers running to grab a handhold in order to swing themselves onto the vehicles which were loathe to stop, and barely slowed. What was supposed to be a triumphant mini-parade through a small mid-western town that had dared to resist the passage of the grand forces of the new regime was instead an embarrassing rout and dash for survival. The modest force of Guard and Loyalist troops was being slowly broken down piece by piece as they made their way across the eastern plains toward their date with a destiny they could never have imagined.

    Dateline: Des Moines, Iowa

    “I’m John Mickels and you are listening to the voice of freedom, the voice of talk radio, the last bastion of free speech broadcast left open to us as the forces of the new evil empire seek to surround, to, to, to crush the very life out of us. Because that’s what they are doing, by their silly rules about opposing points of view to be given equal time, and the notion that open discussion directly aids the enemies of the government. And here’s where I need to be careful, because you KNOW that anything that is said here can and, well, will be twisted to imply a new meaning that it was not intended to have.”

    “Now, as you know there has been some fighting in different parts of the country. Citizens of the United States of America – that’s what they are after all, citizens. The government may declare them to be rebels, or traitors, or anarchists, or… well, whatever they are calling them this week. But as far as I know they have not been declared to be non-citizens, so whether right, wrong or otherwise they are citizens, let’s be clear on that point.”

    He paused noticeably and there was a mild, distant thunk, as if someone set down a water glass.

    “Any way, before I get too far off track here, as I said there has been a lot of fighting. Now, whatever side you are rooting for – the government new or old, the so-called,” he insinuated a mild sneer at this, “People’s Army, or just because you like all the excitement as a replacement for your WWF nights, it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter, you say? By golly we are fighting for our life here. Well, yes and no. You see, some elements who might be considered to be criminal no matter which side you are on, have taken to the idea that all this turmoil can work in their favor.”

    We used to worry about the Mafia corrupting our values, introducing drugs and gambling and every other vice into our communities, but as we all know, or should know any way, they were fairly well broken up years ago. Now, I’m not saying that they don’t factor in any more because they do. But organized crime no longer rules Las Vegas, or anywhere else for that matter, like they once did.”

    “No, what we have now are gangs. Gangs of thugs, Crips, and Bloods, and of, of, common criminals for whom life itself holds no value. We thought heroin was bad? Have you taken a look at what meth is doing to our children, our grandchildren, and for that matter even our parents?” Listeners could almost swear they heard his head shaking side-to-side.

    “Our police forces – the same ones that some of you are so quick to find fault with – have been overwhelmed for years, decades even. Children as young as 7 or 8 are used as lookouts while deals are done on the streets. The more sophisticated gangs are even using security cameras to watch the streets for them – wirelessly – so that their monitoring stations can’t be located by following a cable. And they have the money to do this, because they are succeeding. They produce and supply drugs, they run guns and armaments, they promote prostitution on a scale the Cosa Nostra never dreamed of, and they do all of this using computers and accountants and cell phones and every other modern electronic device known to wall Street.”

    “Listen, I had the pleasure to have a long conversation with another man – whom some of you would recall was a guest on this show some time back, before all of this mess started. I won’t give his name because of the position he still holds in the community at large, but he knows what he is talking about, believe you me.”

    “He told me about what was happening in some areas of the country, new events that would have been unheard of before “The Troubles” began. Gangs are actually taking on police forces head-to-head, out in the open. And they are out-gunning them, out-running them, and basically making a mockery of our system of law enforcement. And not only the police but even the Royal Guard over towards D.C. Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, takes some kind macho. Now, I know you are going to think I’ve completely lost my marbles here but I mean it when I say it, and if you think about it carefully, you’ll understand where I am coming from.”

    He took another pause for effect, or perhaps to convince himself that he was actually going to say what he was leading up to.
    “As God is my witness, the gangers defeated… heck, they whipped the butts of, the Royal Guard. From what I was told this was no small patrol or token force, but a sort of what the military calls a reconnaissance in strength. And they were defeated to the very last man. By gang members! Street toughs!
    And when I heard this I actually cried. Yes, I cried. So call me Glenn Beck but there were no tears of joy as you might expect, because invading forces in opposition to what our great nation stands for were destroyed.”

    “Ladies and gentlemen I cried because our own criminal elements have become so strong that they can face up to and defeat regular organized and armed military forces, and get away with it. And therein lays the danger to our country. Not the couple of hundred thousand ‘peacekeepers’ that have invaded our eastern shores, but the one million or more men and women who consider themselves aligned with the organized criminal elements that see for the first time their chance at taking over our once-great country.”

    Dateline: Marble Rock, Iowa

    Cedric was beginning to show the weariness of his recent toils over the past couple of months. It hadn’t helped that Mildred had developed a urinary tract infection (UTI) and was “a little off in the head” as he liked to say, adding a sly wink to the statement. Fortunately it looked as though she was responding well to treatment with Cipro and Pyridium (phenazopyridine hydrochloride). The latter medication turned her urine a bright pumpkin orange, staining the sheets with the temporary incontinence that was a result of the infection and her altered mental status.

    For his part Cedric was as worried that Mildred might say something about their little shack out back as he was that the infection might represent a serious turn for the worse in her overall state of health. He’d breathed a deep sigh of relief when informed that she was returning to her old self.

    His back had been giving him fits and pains for over a week now. Too much lifting and moving, he told himself. The pain seemed to be centered just to the outside of his spine on the right side. It waxed and waned but was always there to a degree. Take another Motrin and move on, he told himself. Matters across the country were not getting any better, and if he took time to feel pity for himself, they wouldn’t. He couldn’t do as much as he would have liked to, but what he had to offer was a far sight more than most people could ever imagine.

    Last night he had quietly made his way into the shack, and its secret room below. Careful to avoid using any visible light he had bumped his shin on the counter before he found it with his searching hands. Moving on its well-oiled pivots he then groped his way down the steep stairs, pulling the curtain across the doorway to conceal the light that was necessary for what he had to do.

    Once safely ensconced he began to methodically select a few of the more choice pieces that were concealed in the subterranean vault. Each was placed in a padded carry bag with the required accessories. First to be loaded were 4 Soviet SVT-40’s, the 7.62mm Tokarev Self-loading Rifle. They were an odd caliber but he had been fortunate enough to buy several cases of ammo for them. A couple of trips to a private range with the first such acquisition proved to his mind that they would be a reliable arm, reasonably hard hitting and with a workable range. The price was right at the time (mid-late 1980’s) so he had managed to locate a few for sale privately. Magazines were hard to come by, however. There had been relatively few to be had. Fortunately the design allowed for feeding via stripper clips from the open bolt position with the magazine still in place.

    Ammunition was stacked in wooden crates along one wall of the concrete enclosure. Cedric wasn’t sure his back was up to the task of manhandling any of them up the stairs so he settled for removing several packets for each rifle and slipping them inside the cases. Better a cased rifle and accessories at 25 lbs a pop than 40 lbs of cartridges.

    Next came 3 M1 Garand rifles. They were selected for their reliability and easily located caliber of 30.06 ammunition. For them he had managed to stash away several thousand rounds of military surplus ammo, knowing as he did that should push come to shove they could be fed commercial ammo. Much of what he did have was the black-tip armor piercing ammo on stripper clips. His purchases ranged from the odd case to numerous small lots of a half dozen or so clips picked out from an open case in various shops or at small shows. These, too, went into padded cases with 2 bandoliers of ammo – containing 128 rounds apiece - for each.

    Finally the last of his selections for the night, and perhaps the most important. He had a largish collection of civilianized AK-47’s, bearing the stampings of several importers. All were of Chinese manufacture, semi-automatic, and in new or nearly new condition. These were in their own cardboard boxes and came complete with basic cleaning kits and oil bottles. Before they had gone up so high in price he’d made a point of acquiring them on a steady basis. Ammunition was plentiful and cheap, and he wasn’t of a mind to waste it by burning up the ranges with it as so many others had over the years, only to be let down when prices increased and selections became less desirable.

    For each AK there was an abundance of magazines, both 20- and 30-round capacities. He set aside a box of 20-rounders to be carried up and divvied out later. The 30’s would wait.

    His low back by now beginning to ache he decided enough was enough, time to haul his selections upstairs, and from there outside to his waiting pick-up truck, parked out of sight from the care center.

    It had taken him but 30 minutes work to select everything he wanted to carry away this night, and nearly 2 hours more work to carry them up, and then out. A 440 round spam can of ammo for each of the AK’s nearly did him in. By then his back was screaming and his breath was coming in short gasps. I’m too old for this sort of nonsense, he thought to himself.

    Dateline: Rural Iowa, Near Boone

    Jeremiah Lundberg had managed to meditate himself into a minor frenzy during the hours that passed since he had issued his instructions. The grove they were encamped within sheltered them nicely from the world without, cloaking their efforts to disguise their vehicles as well as themselves. When he first made his appearance of the day he was disheveled, his hair wild and unmanaged, his beard grungy with dried spittle. It was as if something had taken over the real Jeremiah. He resembled nothing so much as an entrant in a Charles Manson look-alike contest.

    “Look!” someone cried out. “He awakens! The prophet awakens!”

    Everyone within earshot forgot what they were doing and looked to see what the excitement was about. In their altered state of reality, in no few instances aided by herbs and fungi of a particular nature, they saw not the man for what he really was, but instead a vision of glory.

    “Gather, my children,” Jeremiah spoke. Softly, so that though his voice did not carry far it was enough. When those outside the range of his speech saw the other members beginning to gather they too stepped closer, the better to hear and be enlightened.

    “A map,” he said simply. A tattered roadmap was quickly produced and spread before him.

    He considered it but briefly. “Here,” he pointed with a long, thin finger. “We shall gather here. There we will find the sacred stones with which we shall create the harmonic that will still the voices of our enemies, which will shatter their accursed war machines, and render impotent their projectiles.”

    The area he pointed to was near the town of Lowell, Iowa. Nearby was sited Geode State Park, notable for the abundance of geodes that could be found laying about after a rain, or near the surface if one was inclined to dig. They were considered to be almost sacred by more than a few of the nature worshippers. For inside many of the otherwise featureless nodules ranging in size from a coupe of inches to as much as 10 inches in diameter might be found crystalline beauty, unseen by the eyes of mortals.

    “Go now. Make your way to the appointed place, and harvest the means of our victory. For victory they shall assure us. And after that, when our foes are vanquished, we shall carry our Gaian banners forth and smite the unbelievers far and wide.”

    His followers gazed at him with a look not altogether unlike that of a rapturous visionary. Blank smiles adorned their faces and hands involuntarily arose, palms spread outward, in something akin to glorification.

    “Go now,” he said again. “I am weary from my meditations, for to reach true communion with the Great Mother requires a strength few can afford. It is no less for me. Therefore, I rest before completing my journey with you.” With that he turned and seemed to make his way wearily back into his motor home.

    He was very pleased with himself. He could hear the renewed flurry of activity outside as the large convoy began to break up into small groups of 2 or 3 vehicles, and a few singles as well. Over the course of several hours they would make their way southeast by a variety of routes, rejoining at the designated meeting area.

    Dateline: Ottumwa

    Charlotte was a good as her promise. Word reached the group in roundabout fashion that a load of patients had arrived from the Virginia aid station, that they and the transport crew were all right, and that their plans of a quick return had changed, and to expect them back in 3-5 days, depending upon road conditions. Further details were promised at a later time.

    Once received the message took another couple of hours to reach the people out east. It was received with a mix of both disappointment and elation: disappointment that their people would be delayed in returning, but honest joy that their mission had been successful. It was presumed for the moment being that the motor home had experienced some sort of mechanical difficulty that would require time to remedy.

    A hasty reply was sent in return. Owing to the hastiness of the situation rapid, secure communications were not possible outside the immediate area, and a messenger was employed for the return message just as was necessary for the original incoming note. Once to a safe location away from the field hospital the message could be further sent by electronic means to the station farther west that had passed it on. Because the cipher pads had not yet been passed around more than casually the use of cutouts was made to reduce the chance of the origination or destination of either message being deduced, should it be inadvertently intercepted.

    End Chapter XVII Part III
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

    http://medtech.syrene.net/forum/

    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  33. #73
    I hope there is more to this story.


    WAB
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."---- Robert A. Heinlein

  34. #74
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Dallas, Texas
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    1,154
    Good to see you posting again RR.
    Hope you and Pyg are doing well.

  35. #75
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    bol
    Posts
    3,468
    MOAR please?
    Being PC will be the death of us all yet!
    -----------------------------------------------------
    "But we've got to have faith or we have nothing. We have to have faith in our God, our resolve, our cause and our brother patriots."
    Black, Leo - The Last Stand on Earth.

  36. #76
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    Oct 2002
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    Formerly Iowa - now western Arizona
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    Chapter XVII Part IV

    Dateline: Engleside, Virginia

    Fort Belvoire was a beehive of activity these days, with rotorcraft flying in and out at all hours. Rod had noticed in increasing tendency towards movement of what appeared to be specialty troops by the Guards. If he didn’t know better he’d swear they were regular airmobile troops, commonly known to the Americans as aircav. There was just something different about them, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was. It was the way they were organized, he was sure of it.

    He’d gotten away, as he was sure he would, with his getting in the face of the Royal Guard officer who had threatened to shoot him should any of the helicopters nominally under his control suffer a catastrophic flight event. During some of his off time he pored over everything of a technical nature he could get his hands on, and worked some of the more obscure techno-jargon into his reports. It served to confuse the ragheads who weren’t familiar with the terms, and gave him a modicum of satisfaction at their obvious confusion.

    “What does this mean, these words ‘random erroneous harmonics disturbances’ that you write?” one of the Arabic flight mechanics asked him, distorting the words so that Rod had to ask him to repeat what he said twice before he could make it out. The discomfiture of the mechanic was obvious; he assumed wrongly that Rod was trying to play him for the fool.

    “Just what it says. Don’t you read the technical updates? Not like there are bunches of new ones coming out these days,” Rod retorted.

    The Middle Easterner merely shook his angrily. “You tell me now or I report you to the Major! Tell me, you bum!” Rod almost laughed at the man’s use of the pejorative.

    “It means, you numb-sculled excuse for a wrench turner that sometimes the flight crews report odd vibrations that come and go. Happens all the time. Sometimes they’re real, sometimes they are imagining things. And sometimes, just sometimes, they make these things up so that they can abort a mission they don’t want to participate in. Just like claiming the engine was running rough or they had a warning light flash, when the only thing flashing was their imagination.”

    The Middle-Eastern personnel hated Rod for riding them the way he did, always acting as if they couldn’t be trusted to properly torque the heavy nuts that secured the rotors, or asking if they were sure they had replaced the hydraulics with new fluid and not something they’d ran through a filter and sieve just to save the hassle of going through the requisition process. They hated him because more often than not he was right. After their own superiors caught on to the fact their complaints against Rod served more and more to work against them rather than in their favor.

    On one occasion he caught a flaw in the adjustment of the flight-critical stabilator amplifier on a bird that had already been cleared for return to the active duty line following a routine maintenance inspection. He’d noticed something about the way the 3 Arabs were performing the inspection that set off a tingle in his mind. After they had signed off on the maintenance log he’d managed to make his own inspection, after first calling over what passed for a line chief amongst the interlopers.

    “Why you waste my time,” the chief had asked, working up to the equivalent of a butt chewing for what he saw as interference by the A & P mechanic. “They inspect, say fine, no problem.”

    “Well then, sir,” he managed to make the address come out sounding more like cur, a dig that was lost on the man who spoke English only as a third language, “if we don’t find anything wrong then you feel free to write me up or toss me in the brig, whatever trips your trigger. But I know what I saw. They conducted a shoddy inspection.”

    Reluctantly the line chief went over the aircraft with Rodney, and as a result was Johnny-on-the-spot when the missing connection was found after removing an inspection panel.

    “This!” he almost screamed. “What does this do?” Rodney had to shoulder the man aside, and then he was almost at a loss for what the man meant until he happened to spot the slight variance. What was visible without the aid of better lighting was a small spot of light in between what should have been a tight connection between a data cable and the hardware. The cable was touching the female connector but it wasn’t tight. There was only a sliver of light where there shouldn’t be any to show that the mating was not right.

    “It’s the connection between the flight stabilator and the airspeed indicator. It tells the blades how fast the aircraft is moving so they can compensate for it. If it’s not functioning the aircraft WILL go down. Just a matter of time. Maybe not right away but soon. And, it’s never good when that happens.”

    After that day Rodney wasn’t exactly trusted but he was respected. The direct oversight became less obtrusive and his responsibilities increased. Much to the dismay of his erstwhile Middle-Eastern co-workers he increasingly oversaw their work, taking the opportunity to deal out a few tongue-lashings of his own upon the hapless fools.

    Over the intervening weeks he’d watched carefully as the foreign line crews took over more and more of the more sensitive operations. The Anglo pilots that remained, few as they were and almost all of them resentful if for no other reason than someone else were flying their aircraft, were increasingly relegated to non-critical missions, and turned away entirely from flying combat personnel. Even the few mercenary pilots who didn’t give a damn who they worked for so long as the pay was good and on time increasingly found themselves flying BB missions, or beans and bullets. Their only loads being supplies the only people they could bring harm to, aside from going kamikaze, was themselves and the lone guard whom accompanied each of them when they flew.

    Finally it struck Rod what was amiss. Normally when combat troops were carried they jostled and balked at the seating order, or fumbled with the safety harnesses. Instead of the normal complement of 11 passengers they might try to squeeze as many as 14 aboard, a couple sitting on the deck between their seated fellows, or a few as 8. It was shoddy and unsafe but their officers didn’t seem to care about proper flight loading so much as getting as many soldiers per lift as possible.

    But other times the troops that boarded were more organized, and somewhat differently equipped. Instead of the standard AK-47 that the vast majority of the Arabic troops were equipped with these carried, as he found later, the model AK-74, which used a smaller cartridge and weighed as much as a kilogram less when loaded. At a rough glance it also seemed that every 3rd one was equipped with an under-barrel grenade launcher, something he hadn’t noticed with the regular troops.

    They also loaded up in what appeared to be pre-determined squads. There was no disorganization to their movements. They assembled in groups of precisely 11, always with at least a senior sergeant amongst them, and always in multiples of 3 helicopters. With the regular troops the number of aircraft seemed to vary by what was available and how many troops got off the trucks. The aircraft were merely flying trucks as far as they were concerned, but these others, they seemed special, intent on a specific purpose.

    Rod made a mental note to keep his ear to the ground and his eyes open for whatever else he might learn, as well as figuring out a way to make the revelation known to the patriot forces on the outside. Meantime he’d see what he could do on the sly to hamper operations a little, making use of the laziness of the others.

    Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

    Troubled by her dreams Andrea awakened with a start, momentarily forgetting where she was. She quickly reoriented herself then rolled out of her sack and began to prepare for the day. She moved quietly so as not to awaken the still-sleeping Sara. Considering what lay ahead for the next few days she’d need all the rest she could rack up.

    Andrea slipped quietly through the door into the outer room, where Diane lay resting on her uninjured side. Andrea noted in passing that her breathing seemed even and unlabored, her body position relaxed. That meant there was no apparent acute distress. Carol had already looked in on her and the other patients, dispensing Benadryl (diphenhydramine) capsules for sleep and Toradol (ketorolac) tablets for pain management. Today was to be a day of rest for the patients, safely tucked away for the first time in weeks well away from any danger of enemy action.

    Making her way down the steep stairway Andrea came upon a small flurry of activity. Charlotte was directing the setting up of the outer area before the kitchen, where Andrea had indicated she planned a procedure room. Nearly a score of plastic milk crate-type storage bins had been set on their sides across a plank set across a pair of regulation hospital bedside tables. The result was an organized rack that would serve to compartmentalize the various instruments, medications and supplies that would be needed.

    Charlotte had found a Sharpie marker somewhere, and added to that a roll of adhesive tape. Using the combination she was studiously engaged in labeling the bins numerically, leaving room so that legends could be added later once it was determined what would go where.

    Hearing footsteps coming down the wooden stairs she stopped and turned from her work after hearing them reach the floor and approach her.

    “Good afternoon, my dear. Did you get enough rest?” Her look was inquiring and a bit expectant.

    “Afternoon,” Andrea asked. “Did I sleep the whole morning away already?”

    “Oh, not to worry, dear,” Charlotte rushed to assure her. “It was nearly 7 when you finally went upstairs. You’ve barely had 6 hours of rest, assuming you were able to fall asleep right away.” She paused for a moment, then set down the Sharpie and put her hands on her hips.

    “Any way, dear, as you can see we’ve been busy. Oh, so very busy. The boys have been unpacking the semi and should be about done now. The patients have all been fed, even our dear friend Leadfoot, and re-medicated as needed. The soldiers have set up some sort of security system – they even put a telephone in the kitchen that connects to their guard stations. And Carol and the girls and I have been organizing the kitchen and out here into some semblance of order.”

    It was obvious that Charlotte was pleased with herself and what had been accomplished during Andrea’s absence. Judging from little she could see so far she had every right to be, Andrea thought to herself.

    “And,” Charlotte continued, “We’ve set up a duty roster to cover the next few days. Carol, the boys and I will cover the general patient care duties while you oversee setting this place up to your liking. You know better than any of us what you want, what you are likely to need. Honestly, An… Hon,” she quickly caught and corrected herself lest anyone overhear, “you are going to have all you can do for a while organizing and straightening without having to fuss over our guests any more than necessary.”

    “Oooo-kay…” Andrea responded, trying to collect her thoughts a bit. “Umm, is there any coffee made? I sure could use a cup to finish waking up.”

    Charlotte chuckled at this. “Dearie, we’ve all been drinking it like there was going to be no tomorrow. Let’s us get you a cup and look things over as they stand.” With that she lead the way through the swinging door that lead into the kitchen area, the scene of last night’s field surgery.

    Dateline: Somewhere Near Daleyville, Wisconsin

    The arrangements having been made to the satisfaction of all the involved parties Fred sat waiting under the shelter of the trees lining the primitive landing strip. Traveling ahead of the others he had spent 2 days uncovering and preparing for transport his cache of weapons and munitions. Because he wanted to reduce the overall weight as much as possible, while retaining some protection for the cargo, he had wrapped the rifles in heavy plastic, using wide rubber bands to secure the material around the items they were protecting.

    Then he had taken the rifles in groups of three each and bound them together to allow manageable bundles that would make for easier – and faster - loading. It would only be him and the pilot to do all the work once the plane was on the ground, and speed was critical lest any nosey neighbors wonder what a plane was doing landing in the field this time of day.

    The time was barely 0630 hours, the sun just above the horizon enough to make driving into it difficult. Fortunately the wind would allow the pilot to land with the sun behind him. The plan called for the plane to be loaded in an hour’s time and headed off north by northwest on the track that was anything but a straight line towards the ultimate destination. If by chance anyone hostile to our friends should happen to catch wind of the flight and its purpose they might assume that the arms were intended for elements of the rebels that were reported (or feared at any rate) to be gathering for an attempt to retake Fort McCoy, which as of the day before had been taken over by Royal Guard forces in an attack which had stunned everyone.

    A low drone came from a distance, slowly growing in intensity until it was clearly audible, unmistakably an aircraft apparently intent on using the field. The pilot didn’t take time to reconnoiter the field, trusting instead to his advance information. He came in low and tight, wings level and gear down. The power levels dropped off as he cleared the last vertical obstacle at the end of the field and the plane dropped quickly, the nose flaring up as it did so.

    A spurt of dust and dirt flew up as the wheels chirped softly on the semi-packed surface. The throttles were chopped and the aircraft slowed quickly as it rolled forward. As soon as the forward speed was bled off sufficiently the pilot maneuvered through a 180-degree turn and returned to the end of the runway where he’d just touched down. He’d barely used 600’ in his landing roll.

    Once he reached the far end of the runway he executed a 90-degree turn and taxied to near the stand of trees he’d been shown on a rough diagram. There he made out the outline of the truck he’d been told to expect, blending in with the irregular shape of oaks and maples and hickory trees.

    Fred stepped out where he could be seen, and the pilot in turn waved from the cockpit. He taxied closer and cut the throttles entirely, both props fore and aft spinning to a quick halt. The silence that ensued was almost deafening. The only sound in the air was a slight rush of wind and the renewed chirping of the birds.

    After he climbed through the clamshell doors on the right side the pilot performed a quick inspection of his craft to make sure the wheels were alright and there were no lose access panels. Then he turned to greet his customer.

    “Howdy, friend.” The pilot’s face held no sign of concern or deceit. Fred stepped forward to take the proffered hand and shake it.

    “Nice day for what we have to do,” he replied in turn.

    “Yassir, it sure is,” he agreed. “But time ain’t on our side, so the sooner we get this crate loaded the faster I can be west of the Mississippi and you can be on your own way.” Fred nodded in return.

    “I’ve got everythin’ a wrapped up and ready for fast transfer. Lighter loading as well so we aren’t pushin’ yer safety margins. I understand you are limited to around 950 lbs loading weight.” Fred jutted his chin out slightly in question.

    The pilot nodded. “Yeah, thass right, what I planned on any ways. Cut my fuel load to around 50 gallons to save weight and make another 300 plus available for cargo. Took out the passenger seat, too, seeing as how I wasn’t going to be carrying anyone but me. Make for faster loading, too.”

    Fred nodded in appreciation. “Good deal, then. Let me back the truck over closer so we don’t have to carry but a few feet and let’s set to it.”

    Between the two men they made quick work of the transfer of the rifles and other assorted arms Fred had brought, along with a few cases of other items as well. It wasn’t a case of volume but of weight carrying capacity that limited the size of the shipment. Fred would have preferred that a larger aircraft be obtained that could carry everything he had in one load, but he was limited by what was available and the landing field that he had to work with. There simply wasn’t a standard twin cargo plane to be had that didn’t involve a paperwork trail, something they wished mightily to avoid. Assuming they could have found a pilot who could be trusted. Fred could only go on the recommendation for this guy as offered by his friend, Dennis.

    End Chapter XVII Part IV
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

    http://medtech.syrene.net/forum/

    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

  37. #77
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Where fog and sun meet.
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    2,156
    Thank you for the newest installment.
    I appreciate your writing endeavors and
    the fine details you put in your story.
    Sis

  38. #78
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Southern born, Southern bred
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    You're a great writer RR. I can't wait for another chapter!

    Sully
    Got Jesus? It's hell without Him.

    * When the People become scared of the government it's called Tyranny. When the government becomes scared of the people it's called LIBERTY!!*
    Thomas Jefferson

  39. #79
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    W. Georgia
    Posts
    3,313
    This is an excellent story that I've had the pleasure of reading straight through up to this point. I sure would appreciate more. Thank you.

  40. #80
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Formerly Iowa - now western Arizona
    Posts
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    I sincerely apologize for the long hiatus. I am back in front of the keyboard once again and there will be more forthcoming at a much faster rate. Meantime, enjoy if you will the next segment.
    My last post was just before I started my new job (been there 2 years now) and since then we have relocated residences. Wasn't far but a minor flood gave us impetus. Only took a month to pack up, clean up, and find a place.

    RR
    Real preparedness types know how to care for their own sick and injured.

    http://medtech.syrene.net/forum/

    Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction Contributing author and editor

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