After dinner that evening, there was more homework. Garen had them all down in the workshop to learn and work with more gear. He had tags on all the 22 carbines with names. Everyone was to get one, sight it in and get familiar with it. If they were going to use them in urban terrain, everyone needed to have them sighted in and set up right. They would work great for the harassing fire he envisioned. He even had a Hollywood sling for each made from some webbing. These would let them hang them under their arm under a jacket, concealing them from a quick glance, just like in the movies. This was if they needed to appear inconspicuous. He really didn’t want anyone seeing them at all but, he also didn’t want to be somewhere dealing with a tsunami/earthquake zone, and he saw how that turned out.
The new long guns were on the table as well. He gestured to the 6.5 Creedmoore target gun.
“Allyson, I’ve read your jacket. You have the skills to make the long shots. You are going to be our third long gun specialist.”
She balked a bit at this.
“Garen, I never had the patience for the sniper position. I don’t want to screw up.”
“Allyson, it’s not like I am picking you over several other qualified applicants. I know you can take and make the shot. Your scores in this are better than Kara’s, and Angelique has zero experience at shooting a long gun at 400+ meters. We need a third person for this capability. Here is a rifle set up purpose built for sniper work. I already have one I am comfortable with for long range, Bekka has one, the other one we will get Kara to work with, but it’s not as capable at as far as this one will shoot. Please.”
The “please” made it impossible for her to refuse.
Most of the rest of the evening was spent getting to know the carbines and sighting them in. Using some old cloth ammo bandoleers, they set up bandoleers for the thirty round magazines for the carbines as well. The thought was to not try and reset the war belts or plate carriers for these carbines. These were specialty tools. They could sling the bandoleer on and the carbine, even under a jacket, and move quickly and unencumbered by too much gear. Bekka and Garen had seen too often the turtle syndrome where everyone had so much gear they “might need” that they couldn’t move quickly or far. They were trying to stay light, lean, and lethal as possible for the individual mission elements. They were going to work harder on slimming things down even more once Kara was back and they had more data. The next step would be follow on targeted reconnaissance.
After the carbines, Garen, Bekka and Allyson went over each of their long guns with a fine toothed comb. Garen and Bekka didn’t take long, having had them for years and worked each into the configuration they were in now. Allyson was learning a new rifle. It was a purpose built engine for long range precision shooting. It would look right at any long range target match except for its tan and grey camo pattern. The scope was a magical device. The glass so clear and its ability to gather light so perfect, when she took it outside, the light from the stars and quarter moon were enough for her to see quite clearly. She knew this was probably a $10,000 rifle or more. She was in love.
Kara was moving as swift as she dared but something made her slow up. She came across something out of place. It looked kinda like a random hole in the ground. As she got closer, it didn’t look like an animal digging a den, or looking for food. It just wasn’t in the right spot, nor done the same way. She was hyperalert now. She moved under cover and scoped her surroundings out carefully. She didn’t want to get in such a hurry she led the badguys back towards the house. After several careful minutes she spots more signs that lead her to believe someone dug up some sort of cache. She saw signs of inorganic material, blood and something was dragged away to the north-east. Since this was not in a direction she was as concerned about, she continued to move away. She continued to push herself to make ground until she was too tired for her own good. When she came to accept that she needed rest, she found a spot to hole up for a nap. She polished off some of the last of her food, and crashed out for a few hours of rest.
I know Garen’s idea has merit. I really do. I also know he is trying to be too tricky. He wants to try everything to keep the badguys at arm’s length. He’s wracking his brain for anything to try and keep everyone whole. Unfortunately, the more complex the plan, the more likely it will fail. At a certain point we enter the cartoon level of complexity.
I feel perversely younger now that we are preparing for some form of battle. I feel five, ten, fifteen years younger, back when I felt far too old to be doing combat missions. Yeah, I feel old because I feel younger. I know it doesn’t make sense.
I need to work on my physical therapy. This leg is too stiff. We may be running for our lives, quite literally. The rib will be the biggest issue, but the leg is a close second. I could probably use some K-tape to help stabilize the ribs to give me just a little more capability.
Hopefully the info we get when Kara gets back will paint a better picture. Who knows, maybe the six Terry took out was a big hit to their manpower. They may be a smaller crew than we think. Then again, that’s not our luck.
Kara kept moving. She knew every second counted. When she closed her eyes, she could see one of the vans pull away with more young people being sold away to a life of hell. Part of her wanted nothing more than to lay an ambush and stop every van. That would tip their hand and reveal their capability and stat the hunt for them. They would end up losing due to numbers. The whole “Good of the Many” train of thought. This was the two sides waring in her head. She had some thoughts on how they could take these guys out, but it spread them out and could screw everything up. She didn’t think they had the manpower to hit both at one, but they might be able to hold one in place while they crushed the other one. If it all worked exactly as she envisioned it. Like that always happens.
Some of this depended on what they could find out about the ops in town. If the numbers she was seeing were correct, there were more than 40, but probably less than 60. These numbers were misleading though. There had to be sweep teams and containment teams in town, otherwise where were they holding the people and getting the stuff. That they really needed was a person or two to question. That then posed a problem. Rescue a hostage, then what do you do with them? And they then start sweeping the countryside for the escaped prisoner, which was the very thing they did not want them to do. All of this was whirling in her head as she moved through the forest. That explained why it took a moment too long for her to see the campsite she almost went into.
Garen was back at work digging through the connexes. There was some great stuff, but not a lot for his problems at hand. In another one used for shop stuff was boxes and boxes of tactical clothing. He had all the pants and shirts they might want and then some, as long as you wanted to look like a contractor protective detail in Iraq circa 2004. Loads and loads of the photo/tactical vests that fooled no one, plenty of tan tactical cargo pants, and a bunch of polo shirts. What frustrated him was more about what wasn’t there. He found no shoes, boots, socks, hell underwear of any kind. There were no jackets, no sleeping bags, and no gloves. In short, it was a mixed blessing.
One of Johns other connexes was full of some his aquatic gear. Shelves and racks held scuba tanks, buoyancy compensators, wet suits and various accouterments. There was also folding kayaks, a canoe, paddles and even some sails and a mast for one of them he guessed. As good as this stuff was, unless they were wanting to start a naval warfare branch to their battle, it was next to useless.
The last one of Johns he opened seemed to be a mixed bag. There were boxes of dehydrated food, bicycle parts, and most useful to them was the stack of old tactical gear and bags of old cold weather gear. With the fall weather closing in, these would be key to everyone being able to move around and stay warm outside. He kept digging, but still could not find any ammo for any of the other rifles from the other Connex. This made them well trained boat anchors.
He had put off Terry’s connex until after all of Johns were searched. He had packed up a fallen soldiers stuff downrange before. It was always sad sorting through their gear to get it packed. This was a whole connex. He had no idea what Terry had put in there. It could be empty, it could be filled with Christmas decorations, or it could be full of porcelain dolls and motivational posters.
The first thing he saw when he opened the door was a full sized carousel horse. It looked to be original, chipping paint and all. Then he saw boxes, most marked as you would expect in someone’s storage locker; Christmas decorations, toys, book, china set from granny, and so on and so on. There was an old treadmill and a ski machine. Some beach cruiser bicycles were laying in a corner. Garen couldn’t see anything worth digging through right now. Maybe later they will go through in depth to see what was there, but right now, he had bigger issues to work on.
"Maybe later they will go through in depth to see what was there, but right now, he had bigger issues to work on."
It was on a forum like this that I first read, and chortled a drink out of my nose, the phrase: "Assume makes an ass out of u and me."
I always mislabel my boxes of preps; and put those I don't need quickly in places for "old/moldy storage". Then I put my "canned goods" in standard (USED) cardboard boxes and mislabel them as AUTO PARTS or something equally heavy yet seemingly worthless--having .223 or 5.56 on an ammo can or box is a pretty good "Open me First".
Bekka was up to her ears in radio parts. She had the ones taken from the guys at the roadblock and was trying to get the frequencies and such dialed in to do some monitoring. She had enough dang antennas outside that she should be able to pick something up. If not, she would be able to when they moved closer in the next reconnaissance trip. First, however, she had to make sure they were not set up with GPS tracking. Everybody knew you could track cell phones. Not everybody knew that some Ham and other mobile radios had a GPS capability as well. She didn’t want them to all of a sudden pick up where these radios went.
She was trying to get enough sets of radios synced so they would have enough to monitor, communicate and if need be, enough back up sets configured if they had to abandon their current sets if one of them were captured. They didn’t want to have someone else do to them what she was doing to them. A complete back up set of comms gear was now built into the 8-wheeled wonder and all the other vehicles. They had portables for everyone, along with additional batteries. She had cheat cards for them to use in when to go to the next channel, which ones to use when and all the other intricacies of a comm plan she could remember. She knew she was forgetting something, but hopefully not anything that would catch them square in the ass later.
Allyson and Angelique were out patrolling the perimeter again. They would stop every now and then to listen. While they did that, Angelique would teach Allyson one of the old school mountain man skills she had learned, or Allyson would go through some hands on defense skills. By doing this, both were learning. It felt more like an exchange of information that way. They still kept their voices low and their movements fluid and deliberate. Their benchmark was if the birds stopped chirping, they were too loud. They would then stop until the birds picked back up.
The campsite was neat and orderly, or at least it started out that way. There were bullet holes and bloody drag marks in the tent. A cooler was sitting next to a burned out fire. As Kara looked around a bit more, she could see signs of a family campsite where evil had descended. She couldn’t tell exactly how long ago it happened, but it had been a couple of days but no more than two weeks. Based on the gear still here, there were at least three people maybe four. She followed the drag marks a distance after circling the camp. They led to two shallow graves. Sticks were lashed into crosses at the head of each grave. As she went back towards the camp, she could see a piece of paper sticking out of the edge of the cooler lid. She moved up close enough to read it but did not touch the cooler. Too many things could be set into a cooler as a trap. The words jumped out at her as she read them.
“Emilia, run and hide. Go to where we had the marshmallows.
I will find you. I love you
Kara knew now that there were other predators in the woods at least a week ago. They may have been there looking for them and found this family instead. Yet another reason these guys needed to go. She pressed on, working her way back towards the house. Miles to go, and she couldn’t sleep anyway.
Allyson and Angelique were in the garage. Allyson was working on some hand to hand work.
“So, remember most of what I’m going to show you is the stuff I learned at the academy. Police hands on training is designed primarily for self-preservation and enforcing compliance from a suspect. It isn’t designed to really harm or severely injure them. That is why, after I get some stuff taught to you, we need to work with one of the other three to work on more destructive tactics and methods. They all learned more lethal stuff. What’s even better is each learned different stuff for hand to hand combative.”
Angelique was an attentive student. They were working on standard self-preservation type techniques. Like what to do if grabbed, tackled and so forth. They figured that unless they bad guys caught them in the act of attacking or shooting them, they would be viewed as potential captives rather than hostile agents to be immediately executed. They had spent much of the morning at it.
While they were taking a break, Angelique had some questions.
“So how good are they and who’s the best?”
“It all depends. The thing you have to remember, given two people, a man and a woman, both the same height and basic build, the man will win unless the woman has a way to overcome him. Men and women are not physically equal, in spite of what the tv wants to tell you. The genetics give the physical combat advantage to the guy. We have to be able to overcome this with some other physical or emotional tool or technique. In spite of what’s in the movies, women are at a physical disadvantage. Otherwise, there would not be men’s and women’s leagues in sports, it would just be sports. If you are in a fair fight, you did everything wrong since the time you got up. You have to fight dirty early and often. As far as who is better, supposedly, Garen and Bekka are about evenly matched. She’s better once she gets a hold of you, but Garen is better at keeping a bit of distance and using reach against you. Kara has to use more of Garen’s style rather than Bekka’s because as she puts it she’s ‘too scrawny to stay stable or put enough weight into her strikes’. There’s a reason they have weight classes in fighting. Don’t think this is like the movies. The hundred pound girl isn’t going to deck the two-hundred-fifty pound Green Beret. However, the hundred pound girl can drop him if he doesn’t notice the lead sap in her hand as she clocks him upside his nugget. Movie heroines are as powerful as they are because they have the power of the script. We have to be willing to do more, be meaner and attack as effectively as we can early, otherwise the tables will quickly turn and we will be digging a hole down by the water for you. The down side to going mean and dirty is it commits you to that higher level of violence and if you lose, it will make it worse if they get a hold of you. The guy who just got punched by the girl is a bit more forgiving to her than the one who had his left eyeball gouged out by her and is now permanently blind regardless of anything else that happens. Fighting for your life is just that; you must commit fully, and realize that there are ramifications to doing so. After lunch, we will see if Garen or Bekka can work with us to get more teaching.”
Bekka was willing to go through some hand to hand after lunch. They were working on how to turn some of what Allyson knew and had taught Angelique into true offensive trauma inducing moves. Most were dealing with making joints move in directions they were not intended. No fancy roundhouse kicks or other flashy stuff. Stomp kick onto the arch of the foot or the side of the knee, either from the outside towards the middle, or the inside pushing outward. She showed her how the feint of kneeing the groin causes the target to move their legs sideways, twisting and therefore presenting the knee in perfect off balance position for a stomping style kick to break the knee sideways and inhibit their ability to run or chase. Bekka started with such tactics to focus on the ability to escape and get away from a close in attacker. This also laid the ground work for the next step; initiating the attack.
They went through a systematic identification of all the target points for dirty fighting as well. Thumb gouge to the eyes and below the ear behind the jaw were some quick ones, A downward tearing motion on the ear can tear it clean off the side of the head. How if you can get ahold of their fingers, you can violently pull them apart and split the hand down the middle, impeding their grip for quite some time. They also went over how to twist and bend to cause the grip to fail on things in their hands.
Garen came in next with a bag full of stuff. He spread them out on a table. There were at least two dozen different knives and striking implements. Each knife had next to it a wooden or rubber replica for training. He started going down the line, explaining the general characteristics of a few of them.
“So, we have a whole lot of options here. The thing to remember about up close hand to hand combat is this: Don’t do it! This isn’t some prancing practice floor or some video game. Real hits hurt, punching people with your hands can break your hands, unless you practice a great deal, like boxers do. Martial artists learn a great deal of techniques that are quite useless unless they also learn how to apply them in the real world. I prefer to use tools as a force multiplier. I can do more damage to vital organs with a simple six dollar steak knife in a quarter of the time than I can with a lot of fancy karate. Some of these are designed to mainly thrust, making deep wounds into the body, some are designed as slashing tools, to cut wide swaths of flesh, and some are kind of both. A lot of which one is better boils down to what is better for the individual using it. Some of that is style, some is how it fits in the hand, and some is how they learn to use it. Now, go ahead and feel the way each of them are, and how they move. When you find something, then we can talk about how to use that particular one. Let’s start with knives and stay away from the tomahawks and bigger things for now.”
Angelique and Allyson went round and round the table, picking up and testing each one of the knives, feeling the heft and balance until finally coming to some selections. Garen told them to each pick two different ones. All the while Bekka was standing to the side, a few of her ‘tools’ next to her. She knew what was coming next. She also knew that she would only be doing some of the show and tell. Her ribs wouldn’t permit anything too vigorous, but she could show and go through some of the motions.
Garen looked through the choices. Angelique had picked a medium sized classic fighting knife that looked like a cross between the Marine Corps Kabar and a Randall style and a smaller double edged boot knife. Allyson went a different route. She found a large karambit and what looked like a thin tanto shaped blade.
“Alright, these are some good choices. The boot knife and the small tanto will work well for what is commonly called a ‘get off me’ knife. Small enough to have it on you all the time in a spot to let you get to it with an attacker on you. You can then use it to motivate their separation from you. This knife would not be used for box cutting, shaving kindling or other pedestrian things. That is what pocket knives are for. A lot of people I know wear these types of knives at around the bellybutton or belt buckle position so it can be reached by either hand in such an emergency. It would also be useful for seatbelts and other emergency uses.” He points to the small 3” fixed blade at his own belt, then points to Bekka who has a small skeletal handle just peeking out over her pants in the front.
“Angelique, you and I will be working together. I will work at teaching you the fundamentals of the larger blade you chose. Allyson, you picked the karambit, so you get to work with Bekka, that’s her choice for up close blade work. So set down the live blades. We will be working with the trainers. Before you pick them up though, we need to do some modifications to our apparel before we begin.” He pulled out some lightweight running shorts. “Everyone strip down, bras, bikini tops or whatever and running shorts. We need to see and go through the anatomy we are targeting.” He stripped off his t shirt and dropped his cargo shorts, revealing his running shorts underneath. Allyson and Angelique looked around. Bekka had already pulled her t shirt off and was standing in sports bra and running shorts. Garen turned his back while Allyson and Angelique stripped down and changed. A few minutes later Garen turned back around.
“Now, the reason we are half naked, is so we can see and feel the structures we are targeting.” For the next hour, Garen went through the locations and targets, having them feel the part of the body as it moved and flexed so they had a better understanding of what was where. They felt the interplay of muscles and tendons in the inner thigh, found the femoral artery, manipulated the structures of the knee, palpated the ribcage and the liver underneath. They felt the fibrous nature of the structures in the neck, and the lack of tissue in the forearm and shin. Garen and Bekka then went through the most effective swings, strikes and stabs with their chosen tools. Next, they began some round robin free form sparing to try and bring the concepts together. This went on and on. After several sets, Garen and Bekka began using some of the other ones from the table to give different problems to solve. Each slice, stab and swing left chalk marks and at the end of each individual bout the wound locations were examined for effectiveness and what structures would have been impacted.
It was during the free form and the post-fight analysis that Allyson and Angelique began to see why the half-naked thing for the sparring. This way they didn’t mess up clothes and they could really see the structures involved. It wasn’t some gimmick for Garen to oogle sweaty half naked women.
All through the process, he and Bekka kept up a steady stream of information. Things like “arms and hands are great, but watch the core, that will tell you where your opponent is really going’ and “if you know you can’t get away, you better put them down hard’ and ‘leaving wounded bad guys behind you only spells trouble in the future’. These were mixed with highly technical corrections on grip, stance, and movement. They were well and truly exhausted by dinnertime. The training was halted so everyone could go clean up. They had hoped Kara would have been back by dinner, but that had not happened. Bekka and Garen were starting to get a little worried.