Patriot Aid Station

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
This is the first installment of a story I have been working on for a year + now. It was started as a companion piece to another story started on AssaultWeb by a fellow called Hard Rock. He was shooting up so many patriots I thought a system of underground hopsitals was called for, since they were effectively fighting the government, albeit a rogue government that had found its way to power after assassinating the legitimately elected if not always popular president and other officials.

The story is the carrier, if you will, for the information. The purpose is to illustrate medical care under austere conditions. To this end I have taken the liberty of a little "poetic license" if you will to add interest to what might otherwise come across as dry.

This is but Chapter 1 of 8 completed and the 9th some 10 pages already. The rest is/has been posted on my forums as it was written, so if you can't wait for me to add a wee bit of editing here and there you *could* get ahead of me and read it there meantime. :tlht:

I caution you though; the work has been inquired of for possible publication, though I will have to edit extensively, so reproduction other than for personal use is prohibited until (if?) I can get any details worked out. Meantime, enjoy.

RR

PATRIOT AID STATION

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

Andrea stood in the doorway of the old farmhouse, hands on her hips, a look of dismay upon her face. Before her she saw evidence of years of neglect - cobwebs in every corner, dead flies by the many hundreds laying everywhere, the remnants of an old dining set strewn across half the room. The torn curtain that covered half of one tall old-fashioned window floated limply in the breeze issuing through the randomly shattered windowpanes. Beneath it the wooden floorboards had given way to the rains that had blown in over the years, slowly dissolving them until a dark-edged hole remained. Below that was darkness. It seemed to mock the gloom she felt rising within her as she regarded what was destined to be her "hospital."

"Battalion Aid Midwest" she mused to herself half-aloud. "BAM." That was the official designation given to what was to become effectively an underground hospital destined to care for the combat wounded of the patriot movement that was fighting the new regime that had overthrown the legitimate government of the United States of America. She shook her head as she surveyed the sight before her, what she was supposed to turn into an aseptic environment for the receiving of combat wounded men and women.

Andrea Steinkuhler was 34 years of age, an experienced RN who had been practicing for 13 years now, beginning at her training hospital, Jennie Edmundson in Council Bluffs. After 11 months working the Oncology floor she decided that she needed more of a challenge. An opening came up in Orthopedics, which she applied for and was granted. There she often worked with Dr. Mueller, known for his brusque nature with nurses, as he was genial with patients. But he took a liking to Andrea after she stood her ground with him one day and stared him down in front of a patient. Thereafter she was entrusted with additional duties including those he normally limited to his PA. Andrea's skill with her patients was a plus and when she asked for medication order changes or alterations in their traction apparatus more often then not Dr. Mueller agreed with her and signed the order change during his next set of rounds.

Standing 5' 7" with a slim but not skinny form she grew used to muscling patients to and from wheelchairs and carts who had the added disadvantage of heavy plaster casts and metal frames supporting fixation pins. Seldom did she require more than one Patient Care Technician to assist her. Her experiences in both Oncology and Orthopedics would stand her in good stead in later years. At the age of 27 she married, a short, disastrous affair that caused her to turn deeper into her medical career. Within a few months she relocated to Creighton Saint Joseph's Hospital in Omaha - where she spent the next 20 months working a busy ER and taking every opportunity to learn as much as the medical students assigned there for their rotations. Following which she then fled the city entirely to accept a position as a Nurse Manager with Ottumwa Regional Health Center.

She was a patriot this girl. Growing up as she did in a rural community, coming from German stock who had seen their way through the great depression and who knew the value of putting by. Andrea was never without at least the basics for an emergency. When Y2K had come into focus as a looming threat she had been the one who began to stockpile in earnest. Her new husband of the time ridiculed and mocked her, one of several sides of his she had never seen prior to the marriage. When the separation came he found himself with bass boat and his pool table and little else. He was never the know what he had lost.

Dateline: USA

And wounded there were many of, every action large and small producing more. At first they were presented to the local hospitals. The first few were passed off as hunting accidents or car crash victims, but only a few. It has soon become evident to even the thickest-headed orderly that hunting accidents didn't result in shrapnel wounds and car crashes didn't produce blast injuries. And game loads weren't full metal jacketed. Instead of birdshot and slugs the patients offered small caliber rifle and pistol bullets to the surgeons upon the altars of healing.

Less than 2 weeks after the first wounded patriot arrived the arrests started. Patients found their hospital rooms filled with police officers and agents of the government. After a quick appraisal of their condition they were either dragged off to jail or left with an armed guard at their door, to remain until they could be moved. In one instance of particularly barbaric cruelty a young man barely in his 20's, a resident now of the past 3 days in the ICU, was shot as he lay in a comatose state, with tubes protruding from his body, an equally young and sad-faced fiancée sitting at his side. The federal agent who had performed the deed merely shrugged at the gasping, shocked faces of the nursing and technical staff who had come running at the sound and stated "He wasn't fit to stand trial and his guilt was undeniable anyway." With that he turned on his heal and pushed way through the gathering crowd, leaving them to deal with the now hysterical young woman who remained.

Soon it became evident that the normal medical channels were closed to the patriot community. More than a few died of sepsis or shock from their poorly treated injuries. Sympathetic small town doctors, themselves avid hunters and sportsman, could occasionally be found to render aid. A few, like old Doc Mitchell, themselves veterans of other wars in Europe and Asia, came out of semi-retirement to quietly offer what services they could, only to find themselves ill-prepared with supplies and drugs, much less the sorely needed technical devices. Midnight visits to small town ER's became the rule of thumb until that too all but dried up as the authorities began to station police guards, and hospital staffs refused to "get involved," as they said, in caring for "terrorists." For that was what these patriots were labeled by the new government - terrorists.

Dateline: Andrea

After working a year as a Nurse Manager she found herself longing once again for what she considered to be "real nursing." Resigning despite the protests of her superiors she returned to active nursing duties, happy to be rid of the administrative burdens that went with her previous position. Though Med-Surg was her home turf she doubled as a float nurse because of her varied background. The variety suited her well and her skills gained significantly. There seemed to always be something new she could learn, a new case, a procedure that a doctor would allow her to perform in response to her expressed interest. That she had been considering continuing her education to the Nurse Practitioner level was an incentive in their eyes. She added surgical, dialysis, and obstetrical clinical skills, learned to suture, watched as chest tubes were inserted, bones set in place, C-sections performed and more.

And so, after witnessing the arrest of a middle-aged farmer in the hospital she worked in, Andrea decided that something had to be done for these people. Someone had to provide a refuge where they could be tended to, healed of physical and psychological traumas, and returned to a world less free than before. But nevertheless freer than the prisons that awaited them, provided, she thought to herself ruefully, they lived long enough to even see the inside of a cell. She started by inventorying her Y2K preps, which though extensive by most counts were wholly inadequate for the task she had in mind.

Andrea spent the next month unobtrusively picking up supplies throughout the hospital. A handful of syringes here, packets of sutures there. Always they were items charged out but not used and slated to be tossed. It was fortunate that she worked in the size of facility that she did, there in Ottumwa, because they had a outpatient surgery right next to the ER, where she often worked as a float nurse when someone called in sick or took vacation. Her primary assignment on Med-Surg floor offered it's own opportunities, but the Day Surgery Unit used pre-packaged trays for the various procedures, complete with unit doses of various medications that might be needed. Those that were not were merely discarded when the patient was dismissed, as they were charged as a package anyway and Central Supply claimed it cost more to recover, re-inventory and repackage them than it did to simply replace them. So as often as she could she volunteered to help out when the ER was slack, stating that outpatient surgery interested her and she was thinking of asking for a transfer from Med-Surg. Not only did she pick out those discarded vials and bottles and ampoules but she also sharpened her skills in post-operative patient recovery, skills that would all-too-soon be put to the task.

Dateline: St Olaf, Iowa

Andrea continued her pensive thoughts as she continued her survey of the ramshackle farmhouse that had been presented to her as the ideal location for her hidden aid station. Ideal because it was well hidden from view, the owners were absent in another state, it still had a working well, was surrounded by timber and hills and the locals were pretty much of the type to keep to themselves so long as they weren't bothered. They were descended of if not actually the same people who had been such active supporters of the Prairie Fire Farm Activists back in the 80's that actively fought against the loss of family farms.

This farm was reportedly one of the casualties that stirred such strong sentiments to begin with. Put up as collateral for a farm loan it'd been seized by the bank, and remained unsold when the neighbors refused to buy it or the land. The bank itself went belly up 3 years later, heavy with properties and well used machinery and short on actual cash assets. Bought by a bank in Waterloo, which was later bought out by a larger bank in Des Moines, which merged with a banking consortium in Minneapolis which went public a year later and joined a 5-state financial empire rumored to be foreign investor owned. Nary a soul representing any of the last 3 owners had ever set foot upon it. It was merely an obscure ledger entry carried as an asset. The man who had taken her to the place, a local by the name of Melcher, said it wasn't even hunted out of respect for the family who'd been tossed off their ancestral farm. Theirs had been a Century Farm, owned by the same family for over 100 years. Now the widow lived a lonely pensioner's life in a small retirement center in Elkader called Ellen's Convalescent Center. Now it looked as if it might once again see life, not as producing farm per se, but as a refuge for the men and women fighting those same foreigners who nominally owned the land and buildings.

Stepping slowly over the threshold, watching all the while for more weak spots in the weather stained floor Andrea entered the room, a combination dining/family room from the looks of it. The kitchen was just to the rear, through a swinging door covered in cracked varnish. It yielded only somewhat grudgingly when she pushed against it. She found herself in a room approximately 9 x 12 feet; the wall to her left, which had old, fashioned built in cabinets complete with pull out flour and cornmeal bins. Ranked above them were the counter that once saw bread dough kneaded and pastries and pies and cakes shaped and blended. Overhead were deep cabinets that ran clear to the ceiling 10 feet overhead. The ceiling itself was in good shape, indicating that the room's overhead weren't exposed to the weather. That was good news at least.

To the back of the kitchen there was an attached pantry lined with wooden shelves. On the same wall as the pantry door was a bathroom complete with claw-footed tub, set just off to the side to the outside wall of the house. Andrea smiled in amusement; she'd not seen a tub like that save as a replica at a favorite - and somewhat wealthy to boot - aunt's house. Aunt Clarice was like that. She used to be a nurse herself but left the field shortly after earning her degree to marry a livestock farmer. Andrea had spent her youthful summers visiting their farm, doing girl things with her cousins and Aunt Clarice, and boy things with the other cousins and her Uncle Ludwig. Those experiences also would come in handy in times soon to come.

The toilet looked like it too was original installed sometime in the 20's perhaps when the pantry/bathroom addition was added to the otherwise square 2-story house. It was old heavy porcelain with one of those round lever handles and a big tank. The sink was also porcelain and stained from years heavy use washing dirty farmers' hands, with what looked like the occasional spit of tobacco added in for good measure.

Between the cabinets and the bathroom stood the sink, a large doublewide affair. Beside it an open space where a stove had once stood, the uncapped propane line still protruding through the wall to where the bottles had stood outside. "That looks promising" she made a mental note to herself. Turning to look at the opposite wall that was on the inside of the house she more open space and 2 doorways again. One evidently was leading to the room to the side, the other to an outside entrance. Choosing the side room she entered it.

The room was smaller, leaving space for the entryway behind it. It appeared to have last served as an office as evidenced by the battered remnants of an old roll-top desk that held old bird nests and other trash in it's cubbyholes. Papers were scattered about. Andrea stooped to pick one up and found it was a handbill advertising the sheriff's sale of the farmstead to satisfy the bank note. The only good thing to come of that, she mused was that it made it possible for her to be standing here now.

One wall held a chimney that jutted into the room, it's stovepipe opening covered over with a piece of tin. She'd noticed a similar arrangement on the opposite side in the kitchen. Again more potential. She doubted that if she were here come winter she'd being arranging for fuel oil deliveries. More of the tall old-fashioned windows that stretched 6 feet tall, the same as the front room. A sagging old armoire that had evidently served as a coat closet leaned in one corner. Satisfied she moved back to the front room.

Dateline: Andrea

Andrea's mind skipped backwards again to her youth. Coming from a large German-Catholic family she had many close and extended relatives, many of who farmed for their livelihood, back when you could make a comfortable living at just raising livestock and crops. As a young girl growing up in the small town of Schleswig, Iowa she'd had many an occasion to visit not just Uncle Ludwig's farm, but Uncle Frankel's, and the Baumann's and Greiner's where yet more cousins lived. Then there were the family friends. Her father, who ran a successful feed mill and modest farm supply, often visited with customers at their farms, talking over seed selection, new tillage patterns, livestock and other matters. Andrea would happily play in haylofts and stables and milking stalls and orchards, playing with well pumps and tossing hay forks for fun. She learned to milk a cow by hand, to pitch hay, to prime a dried out leather washer on the kitchen well some still used and to gather apples and nuts and pears and berries and gardens full of varied produce.

By the time she'd reached teen-hood the older aunts and uncles and extended cousins were retiring from the farms while the younger ones looked forward to rural water systems, color TV, big green John Deere's replacing aging red Massey and lighter green Oliver tractors. She found herself attending summer camp instead of spending a week on one farm or another, enjoyed family vacations in the mountains or the Wisconsin Dells. But the lessons learned in younger days stayed with her, always in the back of her mind, waiting to resurface at a future time. For she had learned to shoot small bore rifles and found that she enjoyed it. Archery came easily as well and she had later purchased her own compound bow on a whim. Through the years she had practiced with it and become proficient though she stuck to targets.

Her hobby became collecting old medical texts after being given one that had belonged to a relative who had died during the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1919, nursing the fallen until she too succumbed to the same illness. Over the years she had collected 3 bookcases full. Her nursing textbooks as well as more modern, up-to-date references were added as well. Granted they didn't fit into her collection per se, but somehow she felt compelled. Added later were references to survival medicine and wartime surgery.

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

Entering the other remaining room she saw with interest the narrow stairway that ran off to her left, turning halfway up a sharp 90 degrees. The stairs were shallow and steep as they often were in these older houses, just like they had been at Uncle Frankel's place, his house being nearly as old as this one. "We'll need handrails on both sides," she stated to herself, "The non-ambulatory cases will just have to be quartered down here."

Then turning her attention to the rest of the room she carefully measured it with green-tinted eyes and decided it would hold 4 cots well enough, 5 in a real pinch for those unable to climb the stairs even with assistance. Not an ideal arrangement, a 2-story house but location and concealability were just as if not more important recommends.

Expressing a resigned sigh she then began the climb the stairs, heedful of the heavy dust and bits of fallen plaster that littered it.

Upon reaching the upper floor she found a small landing, perhaps 4'x4' in area, with a doorway in front of her and another to her left. Both had doors hanging, which she took as a positive sign. Beginning on the left she entered the first room, observing as she entered that another room opened off to the right of it halfway down the wall. The room was bigger than the one below, designed in a more square shape. It was clean but dusty and the windows were intact and shorter than those downstairs, using rope and pulley with counterweights to raise and lower. The adjoining room was of the same size and design with no other exit safe through the one she had come through.

Retracing her steps she pushed open the nearly latched door at the top of the stairs and suffered a fright that brought a startled half-gasp from her as a bird took flight and flew circles about the room at her entry before it finally exited via a broken window pain.

Bird droppings littered the floor and windowsills and the stench was almost overpowering. Mindful of the danger of infectious disease exposure from the droppings she reached into a rear pocket with her left hand as her right hand, which had flown to her mouth in her fright, covered her mouth even more tightly. Withdrawing the bandanna she carried there out of habit since her lazy summers on the farm she shook it out and quickly fashioned a dust mask whilst she held her breath. Satisfied with the hasty arrangement for now she proceeded further into the room, and thence into the room adjoining off of it. Both were nearly identical to the first two rooms in size and layout. Sizing up the situation in her mind she determined to set one set of rooms up as male patient quarters and the other side for female patients as well as her own quarters in the inner room.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

While still working at Ottumwa Hospital Andrea managed to amass quite a stash of various medications useful for surgical procedures and emergency response to the various crisis that occasionally occurred with even the best -screened patients. Medications such as anti-arrhythmic, electrolytes, sedatives, analgesics, anti-convulsants, paralytics, anti-emetics and others. Depending upon the procedure performed a patient might have 3 or 4 meds in their kit, or a dozen, and save for a very few the various kits usually differed from each other insofar as their contents. Needless to say many of them were actually used for the cases, but more than enough were simply discarded and many found room in her backpack at the end of the day.

Each and every single bottle, vial and ampoule was quietly fished out of the trash with care to avoid any sharps that weren't supposed to tossed into general waste but often were anyhow. Each was carefully slipped into a padded pocket between her bra cups she had sewn in place herself specifically for that purpose. A 36C could only hide so many bottles but she managed well and in the end had well over 200 single and multi-dose units safely stashed by the time she took a 2-week vacation, requested the next day after she reached her decision. By the time her vacation began it had been nearly 2 months since the assassination of the president and all the others.

She made good use of her time in other ways as well. Boldly approaching a doctor 3 years her junior who had hinted more than once that he'd like to see her socially, she gave him a story about a distant cousin who ran a small clinic in a depressed area of Appalachia. As she informed her would-be suitor he had mentioned to her just before the "Troubles" began that he was having a difficult time obtaining needed medications because of the indigent nature of his patients and he was hard pressed some days to turn them away without the medications they needed. Would he be so kind as to assist her in obtaining a stock to send to him? She'd willingly cover the cost, as being divorced after a short and abusive marriage 6 years before she had few expenses and had managed to amass a nice nest egg which she'd gladly dip into for the sake of those poor people. She'd be ever so pleased of course.

Being enamoured of our philanthropic heroine and rather disposed to liberal leanings himself he readily agreed, quietly telling himself his persistence had paid off, never realizing that his reward for his assistance would be the chance to buy her dinner before her "vacation" only to watch in dismay as her pager chirped and she answered a (pre-arranged) request for additional fill-in staff for the remainder of the evening and night shifts.

Our intrepid acquirer added large bottles of oral antibiotics, diuretics, anti-seizure medications, anti-fungals (Ringworm and other problems were endemic in the area with the children she explained) iron supplements, bronchodilators, and more, and in the end when she cautiously inquired about a limited supply of narcotics such as Vicodin and Percocet and perhaps even some oral morphine he even consented to that. After all, cancer wasn't unknown in the Appalachians anymore than it was anywhere else and it wasn't as if she was likely to buy all these other meds just to cover up for these.

In the end the enamoured young fellow hit up some pharmaceutical reps making their regular sales routes and was able to obtain the requested meds at a very favorable discount, while making it sound as if the idea of supplying a poor rural clinic was his. One fellow, caught in a charitable spirit, even tossed in a large box of professional samples of various and sundry sorts. In all though Andrea went through several thousand dollars. Then added several hundred dollars more when she talked the Purchasing Agent - whom she ever so inadvertently happened to sit with at lunch one day - into selling her 20 cases of IV solutions when she explained her philanthropic mission, complete with administration sets. He also gave her several assorted partial boxes of catheters just the clear the shelves of a style no longer in favor with the hospital.

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

Setting her mind to task after exploring the layout of her soon-to-be hospital she decided upon the front room as her general treatment area and exercise room, the kitchen would serve for the inevitable operations. "How in the world," she wondered aloud, "Am I ever going to manage operations without anesthesia?"

Returning to the outside of the house she found her erstwhile tour guide standing patiently beside his well used Ford pick up. He regarded her non-chalantly as she approached him, content it seemed to let her set the pace of things. She knew him not save that he'd been sent to take her to the old place. Her contact had simply said he'd send a trustworthy fellow who knew the area with the story that she was a back-to-the-land type looking for such a place. Though Andrea wasn't the obsessively shy type she discerned something in his manner that told her that listening might be better than asking too many questions. She'd had to ask few questions on the ride out to learn what he knew of the place.

Dateline: Andrea

Frederick was his name he told her. Just that. Not "You can call me Fred, or Rick," just "You must be that gal Arlen was a talkin' about. I'm Frederick. I'll be takin' you out there."

With that he lead the way to his truck, moved a pair of dirty Carharrt's off the seat and allowed her to climb in. As he pulled out into the street he leaned over to the left and spit a wad of chew out the window in front of a boutique that looked out of place on the street, surrounded as it was by a hardware store on one side and an abstract office on the other. "Damn busybody city bitch anyhow" he muttered under his breath, then fell silent again until they reached the city limits.

"Sorry ma'am, shouldn't be cussing in front of young lady like that but I can't help myself when it comes to that woman. See, she just up and turned up here a couple years ago, just outa the blue like. Seems she had some money and always wanted her own shop. Why she ever decided on settling in St. Olaf is beyond me. Can't be making a living, just a wastin' her money. Damn shame if you ask me." She couldn't help but smile for his referring to her as a young lady was amusing. He hadn't seen 40 yet himself. But the wedding ring on his finger might indicate a wife who disliked rough language, hence his apology as matter of habit.

"You say she's a busybody?" she ventured by way of encouraging him to continue. He cast a quick sideways glance at her then turned his eyes to the road ahead once again. Clearing his throat as much for effect as need he said, "Well, I don't like bearing false witness against my neighbors, like it says in the Bible and all, but seeing as how it's the truth…" his voice trailed off.

"Ya see, like I say she's been here just a couple of years but she sure has stirred things up around town. She's a one of them liberal types I'd guess you'd call her. Has funny notions the way things ought to be, always trying to join this group or that one. Sure got the ladies over that the Methodist church all riled up with her notions. They've had the same minister - Pastor DuMont's his name - for 8 years now and they like him real well. Know I do anyway. And here and she wants to boot him out and bring in this lady minister so's we can get a more modern perspective she says. She even had the gall to complain that the Sunday school classes ain't diverseefied enough. Can you believe that?"

He fell silent for another mile then offered once more "Well, you get the idear anyways. Just hope you ain't like that yourself."

Andrea regarded him for a moment in the breeze blowing in through the open windows of the cab. "No," she said, "No, I'm not. I guess you could say I'm more traditional."
 
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Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter I - Part II

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

"Frederick, can you tell me what the rest of the place looks like, how much land there is? I know you mentioned earlier there wasn't any hunting of the lands. Is there anything else I might want to know?"

He drew himself up as he leaned back, elbows on the hood. "Well, there's a small orchard out back of the house, through that gate there 'round yonder. Don't know if the trees is any good yet. Ain't been tended to in a long time. Apples and pears I 'spect. Most folks around here seem to have good luck with them anyways." They's a old woodlot back behind the field, 'bout 20 acres or so, and the field's about 60 itself. Bank tried to rent it out for cash but no one wanted to pay their askin'. Then too I suspect folks 'round here would have felt bad about taking advantage of the misfortune of their neighbors. I only know all this cuz I look in every so often just to make sure the city folks ain't poaching pheasants and such come huntin' season. Been the occasional kegger in the timber behind the house, starts right back of the orchard but that ain't nothin', just kids. I 'spect they'll find someplace else if they know someone's a livin' here." As he said that he looked at her directly. She returned his look without challenge, just acting as if she wasn't aware of the implications of what he'd just said. But nevertheless the observation was stored away for reference.

"I see," she stated simply. And what about the outbuildings? Are they in usable shape?"
He regarded for another moment yet, then turned his attention in the direction of the barnyard. "Well, they ain't as good as they oughta be but they was built good to begin with. The crib's made of them old clay block, stood up real well. But I 'spect you meant the cattle barn. It could use some work," he ended simply.

"Well then, how about we wander over that way and see about how much work might be involved. You never know, I might decide to stock a Jersey or two." As she turned away and began to trek towards the main structure she smiled to herself at the sudden expression on his face at the mention of the milk cows. Oh yes, this could be fun, may as well enjoy it. He had obviously pegged her as a city girl looking for a place to run her hobby horses. How little did he ever suspect.

Dateline: Andrea

Because of her interest in Y2K and it's possible ramifications she had purchased a new computer, a 233 MHz model, complete with scanner, fast printer and a detachable storage device. She was almost religious about maintaining her software and regarded virus protection and Y2K compliance as paramount. Actually, it was the one thing her husband had never complained about, because he had his own interests on the net, mostly centering on sports and fishing. It became the only thing they argued about when the split came. But she had stubbornly insisted.

Since the split and the subsequent divorce she took to searching and downloading articles and references, telling herself it was to further her hunger for medical knowledge. But all the while within her burned a deep need to know, to learn, to save up as it were for something as yet unknown but nevertheless seeming to be looming in the future. It was a drive she could never explain, and, indeed had never told anyone of, even her closest friends, but it was there, waiting and demanding.

As the years passed Andrea made use of her computer. Y2K sites gave way to general survival and homesteading. Michael Hyatt transferred his interests towards personal security issues; Cory Hamasaki drifted back into the world of computer nerd-dom and effectively out of site. Her computer, once seemingly so powerful and fast, was quickly superceded by faster units with more storage. Zip drives were upgraded until her own storage unit was less than the electronic equivalent of a dinosaur.

Because of her interest in Y2K and it's possible ramifications she had purchased a new computer, a 233 MHz model, complete with scanner, fast printer and a detachable storage device. She was almost religious about maintaining her software and regarded virus protection and Y2K compliance as paramount. Actually, it was the one thing her husband had never complained about, because he had his own interests on the net, mostly centering on sports and fishing. It became the only thing they argued about when the split came. But she had stubbornly insisted.

Since the split and the subsequent divorce she took to searching and downloading articles and references, telling herself it was to further her hunger for medical knowledge. But all the while within her burned a deep need to know, to learn, to save up as it were for something as yet unknown but nevertheless seeming to be looming in the future. It was a drive she could never explain, and, indeed had never told anyone of, even her closest friends, but it was there, waiting and demanding.

As the years passed Andrea made use of her computer. Y2K sites gave way to general survival and homesteading. Michael Hyatt transferred his interests towards personal security issues; Cory Hamasaki drifted back into the world of computer nerd-dom. Faster units with more storage, once seemingly so powerful and fast, quickly superceded her computer. Zip drives were upgraded until her own storage unit held less than the electronic equivalent of a dinosaur.

As time passed she kept up, to a degree. Within a couple of years she had upgraded her entire system. And then again, and again, never striving for the latest and greatest but expanding as she perceived her needs to require it. She now used a 1.4 GHz processor, with 2 separate hard drives, one which she took the added precaution of ensuring was removable and transferable to a portable unit. On it she saved data she felt she could not do without. She considered it her SHTF drive. A name she found both amusing as well as sobering. Entire modules containing information on survival in various climes, through various disasters both natural and man-made, email lists, addresses, contacts and more. For our lady had joined that sub-group of society called survivalists.

When she had officially crossed the line she was never sure, but looking back she could easily see that her entire mindset was changed. From a young girl in rural Iowa she had grown to adulthood, gained an education, experienced marriage, and divorce, attended funerals of family and played with nieces and nephews.
The world had changed. Wars were still fought throughout the years. She had watched the news about first Operation Desert Shield - later Desert Storm, the Balkan wars - at least 3 plus the innumerable sub-regional conflicts. The abortive attempt by Saddam Hussein to unite the Arabic nations under his leadership mantle against the Jewish state, the increasing terrorism that grew over the years. Yes, the world changed and so did she.

Dateline: St Olaf, Iowa

Upon entering the main barn she paused a minute to allow her eyes to grow accustomed to the gloom within. Ahead lay stables, to the right what appeared to be an old-fashioned milk room. Choosing that she proceeded into it, then into the actual milking area beyond. There were 4 harnesses, rusted with age and neglect and layered with dust. But the alleyways were clean. It could be made useful again.

Returning to the main barn she quickly explored the animal stalls then climbed the ladder to the haymow. The 3rd rung up parted under her weight, causing her to drop the short distance to the 2nd. Disgusted with herself for not being more careful - she knew better after all - she again began her climb, this time checking each rung before she put her full weight upon it. Reaching the loft without further incident. Daylight poured through numerous holes in the roof. It was badly in need of shingling and in some places resheathing as well. The floor of the loft was holed in places and she dared not attempt to cross it even no heavier than she was.

Quickly returning below she found Melcher, "Frederick", she quickly reminded herself had entered and stood waiting. "Like I said it needs some work" he offered, nodding to no one in general but apparently in self-agreement. "I see that. But it is worth saving, right?" she questioned him.

Gazing up as though he'd not been cognizant of the structure before he looked it over, nodded a couple of times and offered "Well, it could be made to work a few more years. Lak I said, it was built good to begin with. Rock foundation, ain't settled but in a few places. Good timbers in the frame, not like nowadays. I 'spect if'n youse was to call them Amish fellers next county over they'd a do ya good on it."

"Amish people?" she inquired? "Are there many in the area?"

"Well, they's a bunch of them for sure, 'bout 15-20 families in all. Nice folk. Honest, hardworking and they seem to know all about barn buildin' and such. I wouldn't be afraid ta hire them if'n it was me they was a buildin' for."

"What else can you tell me about them? I've always admired them but there weren't any around where I am from."

He looked down at his feet and shuffled in the dirt for a moment, then looked back up but towards a window. "Well, first off ya gotta remember they ain't fools. They know the value of a dollar better'n any of us. Some folks over ta Manchester way tried to take advantage of them a coupla years back, said they didn't follow the plans 'er somethin'.
I don't hold with folks what act like that myself. They put in a full day's work for a day's wages and you can't do better for their skills. All hand fitted when they do carpenter work."

"Wonderful. Do you have a name I could call?" Her mind was racing as she spoke, thinking of possible improvements that might be needed and quickly.

"You'd a have ta go see them in person. Don't 'spect their beliefs allows for phones in their houses. But they ain't hard to find. Just check at the bulk store over in Hazelton and you'll find them alright."

"I'll be sure and do that then if I decide I want this place. It looks very good so far for what I have in mind."

He gave her a quick look then said, "Well, that being the case you want ta see the rest of the place? Not much else to see unless you want to inspect the pasture. Crib's a crib and all that; machine shop is that away. Newest one of the bunch."

"How about if we look over the shop building then. If you say the pasture is fallow that's good enough for me."

He nodded once again then lead the way without saying anything further. The tangle of weeds and the like made progress somewhat slow but that would mow down without difficulty, and might even be a help for what she had in mind. Dairy cows needed hay after all.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

"Charlotte, may I have a word with you when you aren't busy?" Charlotte was an older nurse, well into her mid-60's, and had spoken of practicing nursing now since the mid-60's when she started as a Candy Striper. She didn't have a lot of use for all the extra certification courses that were the rage now for some years, ACLS, NRP, Geriatric Support Protocol and the latest, Health Maintenance Instruction. But she was a wealth of information about older tried and true techniques, and got along well with the senior members of the medical staff. Andrea had at first developed a disliking for her because she was seemingly so stubborn about accepting new treatment regimens and charting techniques. But after a chance confrontation while she was still working as a Nurse Manager she experienced an epiphany upon realizing what an invaluable resource the woman actually represented.

"I'll be there in a minute dear." Charlotte was like that, calling the staff and patients alike by endearments. She could come across as gruff, but deep down she had the heart of a caregiver.

"No hurry, I'll meet you on the plaza, I'm going for a smoke." Andrea still allowed herself a half dozen cigarettes each day. She was one of the few nurses who did in fact smoke. The hospital's smoking incentive program included a prescription co-pay waiver for staff who agreed to quit and submitted to irregular urine tests for nicotine levels. But then, too, cigarettes had increased to the price of $39.00 a carton for most brands, ever since then Governor Bilsack had implemented his tobacco tax hikes in the late 90's. Iowa was lucky, in California the price of a carton of cigarettes had soared to nearly $60 on the black market and tobacco shops found it necessary to employ full-time armed security guards when cartons of cigarettes replaced jewelry as the favorite of hold-up artists.

Once Charlotte had joined her and lit her own - she was an unreformed smoker since her teen years and vowed never to quit or cut back - Andrea turned and regarded her frankly. "Charlotte, we've gotten along well the past few years, though I admit you gave me a rough time when I was a manager" she ended with a grin. Charlotte returned her own grin before she spoke in reply.

Okay, dearee, let's hear it. It's about that young Internist who's been chasing you lately, right? You need advise?"

"Oh puh-leez! Not him! No, it's not what you think. Charlotte, I need some advise I can't get from the other nurses. You're not like them, and I don't mean your nursing practice. Well, not exactly any way."

At this Charlotte blew her own smoke forcefully, regarded her cigarette for a moment, then reached into her pocket and pulled out another one, lighting it off the first before she stubbed out the first. "This sounds serious, Andy. What's bothering you?"

"Charlotte, you were practicing nursing when patient care was the issue and not saving money or covering your butt with paperwork up the wazoo. I need to know about nursing practice back then for a special project I have in mind. "

"This is about your Appalachian project, isn't it? No, no! Let me guess. You want to know how to run a remote clinic without all the nice throw-aways we depend on any more, doncha? You want to know what's important and what ain't when it comes to the paperwork, what's really needed and what's busy work for the insurance companies. Okay, I'm with you, just give me sec." She nodded to herself as she took another drag, inhaling deeply at the end, then expelling it with a long drawn out sigh. She stared off into space across the courtyard, deep in thought.

Then, seeming to have made her decision she looked directly into Andrea's eyes in the manner she had that said I'm in charge and I'm not going to back down. "You planning on working this clinic yourself, ain'cha? But you aren't going to help the hill folk. That story you told Dr. Neidermeyer was just that, a story. Oh, now settle down dear, just settle down" she hastened to add as Andrea gave a surprised start and sat straight in her chair. " You probably don't remember but you mentioned in the break room once that all your family were either farmers or businessmen. You never said anything about anyone being a doctor. Fact is you said you were the only one among all them kids and kin that went in to any kind of medicine. "

Andrea shifted uncomfortably in her chair, noticing as she did that her own cigarette had since burned down to nothing and gone out unheeded. She lit another one as a way of covering her nervousness, while Charlotte watched with that direct manner of hers.

"Charlotte, it's not what you might think…"she began.
Charlotte interrupted her protest. "I've been watching ever since you 'bout got arrested yourself when they came for Howard Skinner on 2 East last month. You think you're the only one who feels that way? I grew up with that man's father. We went to school together over in Eddyville."

"Andy, you aren't going to help a cousin run a country clinic. You want to go tend to these people yourself."

Andrea sat very still for a moment, then quietly said, "Is it that wrong?"

"No dear. If I have learned anything all these years it's that there is right and then there is right. Oh don't worry, I won't tell a soul. Unless of course you want help. Then I do know some people…"
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
CHAPTER 2 Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

Charlotte had indeed "known some people." She proved to be an amazing resource, one Andrea had never thought to find. She had convinced herself that her only hope of success lay in secrecy, when all along what she had needed was to confide in carefully selected people. That same evening later, after working a 10-hour shift, she accepted Charlotte's invitation to "meet a few friends for a late coffee and dessert" as she had put it. After first changing into street clothes she traveled the few minutes to Charlotte's house.

Situated just off the highway in a newer section of town her place was nevertheless cozy and semi-private with a dense wooded belt between not only the highway itself 30-odd yards off but interspersed between the subdivision houses also. Her late husband, Orville, had died 2 years previously just after turning 70. He had been a business executive with the John Deere Company and had parlayed his stock options into a tidy retirement fund that saw for a comfortable living for he and his wife.

Several vehicles were present both on the street and in the double driveway. A gentleman she placed as being in his early 60's almost immediately answered a knock on the door. His features were weather beaten and his hair crew cut and gray. In response to her inquiring eyes he introduced himself as Charlotte's brother Raymond and bade her enter as he backed into the entryway, opening the door wider as he did.

"Please, make yourself at home and I'll tell the others you are here. I won't be but a minute." With that he strode off towards another part of the house.

Orville and Charlotte's only child had been KIA while serving with Coalition Forces during Operation Desert Storm, one of the few actual combat deaths. A picture of him in BDU and field gear with slung weapon hung unobtrusively on a wall, a hand-written message scrawled across the bottom: "Freedom won is freedom gained, though never won cheaply nor easily. Daniel."

Nearby hung a photo of a young Orville, resplendent in Marine Corps dress uniform. Next to it was a shadow box with medals, including a Bronze Star and 2 Purple Hearts. A tri-folded MIA flag filled a third of the box in the upper right hand corner.

As she stood they're looking over the artifacts Charlotte came bustling into the room. "Oh, there you are dear. Come, meet the others. We were just about to pour coffee." Leading the way she took her through to the kitchen area then down a flight a stairs into the basement. Entering what appeared to be a rec room or den she found 9 other people seated. Heads turned towards the doorway as they entered expectant looks in all of their eyes. Telling Andrea to "Sit over there dear," Charlotte then turned towards the bar and busied herself with coffee and cookies. The aroma was enticing.

Dateline: Andrea

After deciding the farm would work perfectly, with a few modifications of course, the next step was to get the ball rolling. Time was of the essence. So much needed to be done and there seemed so little time. The reports of increased fighting were daily news. Reports of foreign "peacekeeping" troop only the latest. Their roles varied depending on who you listened to but all agreed - good or bad - they were aligned with the new government. Everyone also agreed it could only get worse before it got better.

The lady who had identified herself to her guide as Irene Whitewater - a Christian name she took secret perverse pleasure in - moved quickly. After leaving her guide behind back in St. Olaf and regaining her Blazer she headed directly for Hazelton. In her mind a plan was forming. It was gutsy for sure, and there was no assurance that it would be well received, but it offered possibilities like no other.

Much had happened since she had first begun her self-appointed mission. First there was the meeting with Charlotte's people. Never in her wildest dreams had she thought she would ever have the kind of backing she had stumbled upon. The group, it turned out, had been meeting informally for 7 years. Those present that first night were contact people, the real players she would never see and were only hinted at. But they were not only intrigued by her idea they had decided to offer their full support. Resources, funds, equipment and supplies and more.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa


"Char tells me you have an idea about how to help the patriots. God knows they can use it," Raymond began after everyone had been served and the quiet polite murmuring had settled down.

Andrea sat for a moment fingering her coffee mug while she pondered her response. She was unsure of herself, having never been much of a public speaker and wasn't given to long explanations but she could see that was what was going to be needed tonight. It was apparent these people wanted to help and that they might be prepared to assist her, though she knew none of them as clinical people save for Charlotte. That didn't mean, however, that they weren't. "Soooo" she decided, taking a deep breath, "I may as well jump in with 2 feet" she thought to herself.

"I'm not sure what you want to know but I'm prepared to answer whatever questions I can. First, I'm an RN. I've been working for 13 years now and I think I have a pretty good handle on it, as far as my skills can take me. Charlotte can tell you more I'm sure. I have a pretty good knowledge of some procedures that are outside the normal range of nursing practice. I've never done any real surgery of course but I've assisted at times and I can suture alright and I'm sure I can set simple fractures okay."

"I've been able to obtain a lot of medications but not all I might need I am certain, and I don't know how much more I can get, if any. I plan to leave my employment here at the hospital very soon, but before I do I am going to take some vacation time and look for a place to get set up. Right now I don't know where to look first, perhaps towards Virginia, where most of the fighting seems to be taking place. But one I do leave I won't have access to much in the way of additional supplies."

"What can we do to help?" Raymond prompted her further.

"Right now, aside from the issues I have explained, I need people, and more supplies. I have quite a bit for myself. I began to stock up for Y2K but I have no where near enough for what I have in mind. I do know of a gentleman from What Cheer who might have a large quantity. He used to take large donations of supplies and equipment and carry them to Mexico but I heard he was looking for a new truck before he could resume that, so maybe he'd agree to donate some, considering what has been happening. I hope so any way."

Raymond looked meaningfully towards a couple of the others assembled in the room. Small nods greeted him, unspoken approval of what he might have in mind.

"Well, Andy - I hope you don't mind if I call you that - it might be we can help. You see, we have a pretty strong sense of what we consider to be right. No, what IS right" he corrected himself. None of us are what you might call liberals. Sis's husband and boy both were combat vets and so was I. Charlie there," pointing at a man who appeared to be nearly 80 but who sat straight and proudly "was in Korea." In fact, everyone here has some connection, either themselves or family members, who saw military service if'n not action."

"Anyways, what I'm getting at is you don't need to worry none about any of us. Everything said here is between us, and a few folks we represent you might say. Everything comes through us but we are just the ones in the open you might say.
We and the people we represent, want to help. You only need ask us and if it's humanly possible, you'll get it, and maybe a little more than you might think to ask of. We think there is more here at stake than what meets the eye. We are counting on you to help us."

Turning to the other members of the group he said, "Anyone else got anything to say before we gets down to brass tacks here?"

"I do." A rather matronly looking woman, replete with faux pearls necklace and the sort of no-nonsense black shoes you sometimes see on elderly women set her cup down on the magazine stand beside her before she folded her hands into the lap of her dress. She looked Andrea straight in the eye for a moment before stating "My husband would be here with us tonight if he could. I'm sure he'd approve of whatever we decide. But you have to know that since he is not I intend to speak for him."

"You go right ahead, Norma," Charlotte stated. "If anyone has an interest in what this girl plans to do you of all people should."

"Thank you, Charlotte. I fully intend to do so." The woman assumed a prim air as she straightened herself, jutting her chin outward defiantly.

"My husband is a retired Air Force officer. He was in intelligence, you know," stating it as if Andrea should have known that. " As soon as he heard what happened to the President and all those others he says to me, he says 'Norma, it's time. ' That's all, just "It's time.' Oh I knew what he meant as soon as he said it. We've had 41 good years together, that man and I. I never complained when he was sent overseas or was gone for weeks at a time, and I certainly do not intend to start now." She ended with a definite nod of her head and then sat there, apparently waiting for Andrea's reaction.

Andrea must have looked confused because the woman sitting next to the speaker spoke up. "He's done it you know, he's gone off and joined the others. Her husband that is. He's joined up with some other men and he's off doing what he does best."

Andrea was still confused. "You mean, he's re-enlisted?"

"Oh heavens sake no" she tittered. "He joined some other men and is off fighting in his own way. He has a lot of experience they can use. As Norma said, he was in Intelligence."

Raymond spoke again. He seemed to be the spokesperson for the group and everyone seemed to defer to him. "You see, Andy, as I mentioned we are part of a much larger group of people. We've been preparing for this for years. I won't say how long but it's been for a long time. Norma's husband has joined the Patriot Resistance, in his former capacity as an Intelligence expert. Like the rest of us he's too old to actually fight but the boys still need support, just like the regular military units. He's off south of here a ways with the rest of them."

"I see. So what you are trying to say is you people have a personal interest in what I propose."

"Exactly. We have family and friends who are involved and we want to see to their safety as best we can."

Raymond looked about the room at each person in turn before sitting back. "So, what do you folks think we ought to do to help this young lady? We know what we have and we can do. My question is, how much should we do? We have several directions we can go with this. Myself I think we oughta go the whole nine yards. I don't have to tell you what that means. So let's hear it."

Another man, who had been silent up to this point sat forward, elbows braced on his knees. "Well…." He paused for a moment. "Well, ain't none a us getting any younger, and we all agreed from the start that when thuh time came we'd a throw ever thang we got at it, and ya ask me, the time's done come. S'far as my folks is concerned we'll do what we can in thuh way a supporting ya'alls."

Raymond nodded, then looked at Charlotte. "Sis, you know this gal better'n any of us, think she can do what she says she plans to?"

Charlotte didn't hesitate when she answered, "You know I do or I wouldn't have called you all. Everyone wants to fight, but those fighting are going to get hurt on both sides. We need to look after our own. God knows if we'll ever see that Skinner boy again."

There were solemn nods around the room at this. No one else offered any more, and Raymond seemed satisfied that the matter was settled. "All right then, you're in, Andy. You've got money, materials and more coming. It's up to you to make it happen. "

Dateline: Iowa

"You're listening to KWHO Radio, Des Moines. I'm John Mickals and it's time to bring you the latest news on what I consider at least, to be an extremely disturbing situation with our government. Hillary Boxer as we all know has proclaimed herself President following the murder - that's all it was, murder, we all know that - of President Powell and the other members of our Constitutional government - the one we elected after all, like it or not.

So, as I was saying, the latest news. Now, I know some of you listeners out there may know people on both sides of this conflict. It's a very……dark………day indeed for all of us. Military units have been isolating themselves on their bases, and now we have reports that a few ……so called……*renegade* units have been ATTACKED by the UN peacekeepers! Folks, this is unbelievable! Our own men and woman in uniform are being attacked under the pretense that they somehow represent a danger to the American people. This this is just unbelievable."

"We have been handed directives telling us to change our programming format, to one - they say - is more "in line with administration policy, considering this time of grave crisis for the American people and the united peoples of the world. Now. Now, just what does that mean, the "united peoples of the world. Who united them, and what does that have to do with us here in America anyway. I just don't know. We'll be back after we take a break."

Her grip tightening upon the wheel Andrea drove with more determination than ever before. Matters were deteriorating faster than she had thought. American bases, and troops, attacked by foreign peacekeepers? By what right? Who the blazes was Hillary Boxer to bring in these people to begin with, then turn them lose on our troops? It wasn't OUR people who had staged the assassination anyway. Damn them anyhow!!
Was the entire country going to go up in flames? As she drove even faster to make her destination before mid-afternoon a plan was forming in her mind, one she had always known might have to be used but she had never seriously contemplated before. It was her own version of a doomsday plan.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

"Alright, so. " Raymond was addressing her again in particular and the group in general. "The first thing we need to plan are the necessary security measures. After tonight there will be no more meeting as a group between you and us. That's only for your own protection. We've been taking risks for years and we know how to protect ourselves. But you, young lady, you are new at this game. Yore a valuable asset, one we wanna protect at all costs.

"What do you suggest then?" Andrea inquired.

"First, we get you one of those pre-paid cell phones. It won't be traceable to you and that's what we want. Next, long distance calling cards, again, untraceable to you. You won't want to be using that cell phone all the time unless it can't wait."

"Next you are going to need some new ID."

"I have that covered already," she said. The looks on the faces around her registered startled shock.

"You mean….," Raymond began.

"Yes, covered in depth. Part of my preps after Y2K when I saw the increased regulation. My ex-husband ran up some debts after we were separated that came back on my credit report, so I read up on alternate ID and established a fall back just in case anything happened," she replied.

"Allllllriiiiight." Raymond was obviously rethinking things as he went. "Without revealing the identity itself, can you tell us how "in depth" it is, in general terms that is?"

"Well, there's a driver's license with my real picture - for the one I carry now I changed my hairstyle and color, wore heavy make-up and added pads inside my cheeks to make me appear heavier. It also lists me as 19 pounds heavier than I really am. I can always say I've lost weight and changed my image if I get stopped." She smiled as she said this, breaking some of the tension in the room as a couple of snickers broke out from the other women present.

"Then I have 2 credit cards that are 7 and 8 years old respectively with a good history on both, a bank account to back them up that I have had in my other name for 10 years, a new social security number that was also requested 10 years ago, bank statements, tax returns, library card and more. It's not airtight but it's good enough to get credit with and it's clean. I even rented an apartment with it once before I moved here."

There were nods around the room at this news. Their estimation of this young woman went up immediately. Not only could she think ahead but she had guts as well.

"Well, then that seems to be taken care of. But we need a name for you for other purposes. A code-name if you will. Any suggestions?"

Andrea thought for a moment, then looked up with a mischievous gleam in her eye. "How about 'Denmother?' "

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

Andrea drove through the small town of Hazelton until she came upon the local convenience store. A quick inquiry netted her directions to Miller's Country Store south of town. Driving down Hwy. 150 she turned off at the designated corner, heading west for a couple of miles until she found the store set along the county road.

Outside were tied 3 buggies with horses waiting patiently, tethered to an old fashioned hitching post. A black sedan and a newer pick-up truck were parked off to one side. The building itself was unpretentious, white clapboard with a pillared porch overhanging 2/3's of its length. Sacks of various items were stacked here and there along with potted plants. A chalkboard advertised specials that were now in stock according to the season.

Entering through the screen door she found herself in a wooden floored room, a counter in front of her attended by a bonneted young woman wearing a simple light blue calico dress and white apron. She looked up briefly to see who had entered then went back to her figures, working them out with pencil and pad.

Several other people strolled throughout the store; some dressed in black while others chose subdued blues and chambray. One customer was obviously a farm wife shopping for bulk goods. She probably explained the pick up truck. The other woman wore a black or white bonnet, ankle length dress and apron. The men all had straw hats. One older gentleman wore a black coat with white shirt, vest, and black trousers. His beard was graying and he regarded her with a formal wariness.

Andrea approached the counter and addressed the young woman as she looked up. "Excuse me, but could you tell me where I might find the local pastor for your church?"

"I'm afraid we do not have ministers ma'am. Our church is not like that."

"I'm sorry, I guess I'm not very familiar with your beliefs. We don't have any Amish or Mennonites in western Iowa." Andrea felt flustered, afraid she had already blown it by somehow insulting the young woman.

"It is alright ma'am. Many English are not aware of how we live, even those that live here with us. Is there something I may help you with?"

"Actually, I am looking for a community leader, whatever you call him. I have some business I'd like to discuss and I was told I could contact someone here, but I wasn't given a name or anything."

"Very well ma'am. You might mean one of the Elders. Over yonder you will find Elder Klein, the man in the black jacket. He has dealt with Outsiders before and perhaps he can help you." She offered a shy smile at Andrea's obvious discomfiture at the use of the term Outsider. "Tis what we call those outside our community. Nothing is meant in the way of insult."

"Oh, none taken. And, thank you, you have been very kind." The clerk inclined her head with a small smile to acknowledge the compliment, then went back to her figures.

Approaching the man pointed out to her as he stood examining a selection of veterinary medications she took a deep breath and then announced herself: "Elder Klein?"

He looked up at her, questions in his eyes as he regarded her for a moment then stated "Yes, what is it?"

"The girl at the counter pointed you out to me. She said you might be able to help me."

"Is that so. Well then, what might I do for you?"
"I was told I might find some men here who were skilled carpenters. You see, I have an abandoned farm over by St. Olaf that needs some repairs, and I need it done very quickly but I want it done well. Would you happen to know of anyone who might be able to do the work for me?"

"Well, that might be possible, but have ye no husband that can lend a hammer?"

"No sir, that is, well, no sir. He won't be home for quite some time I am afraid." Inside she was cringing, afraid that he would not care to take her seriously, preferring only to deal with the head of the household as he saw it fitting.

He was silent for a long minute, then "I see. That be the case then we should discuss this outside with my wife, Elisheba. 'Tis only proper by our custom."

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

The planning had gone on fast and furious the remainder of the evening. At first Andrea had insisted on going eastwards to where the heaviest fighting was to be found, and in her mind at least, the greatest need for medical care. But as the others pointed out to her it was also the least secure part of the country, and they were talking about caring for people who ideally wouldn't be moved in some cases once they reached aid. She had to admit they had a point.

"Ya see, Andy," Raymond patiently explained, "The Mississippi River forms a natural barrier. Plus there is a lot of commerce what travels it on the barges. Food, Andy, food to feed this nation. Raw materials that are going to be needed for the fight to win this war, and much, much more. One way or another there is going to be a lot of fighting over that river system. The Missouri River is the same way as far as being a barrier, but there isn't as much traffic. We also have the ammunition plant down near Middleton and the old armory at Rock Island that could be put into production again; there's Offutt over by Omaha that's gonna catch heck one of these days and that damn traitor Governor Bilsack has got Camp Dodge locked up tight as a drum and all the armor that goes with it.

"No, Andy, the best we can do is set you up right here in Iowa where it's reasonably safe and so you can be resupplied. Don't worry about the troops reaching you. We can see to that. But for this to work it needs to be kept secret. Otherwise yer askin' for trouble from overzealous cops at the very least. We've already seen enough of that going on. The boys need to know that once they make it to your station that they'll be safe as well as in good hands."

Andrea thought over for a moment what she'd just been told. "So do you have any ideas then on where to locate me?"

"Scott?" Raymond addressed one of the other men present?

"Whal, yeah." Scott scratched his chin as he looked towards the ceiling for a moment. "They be a coupla places might work real handy. Lemme do some figuring on this and ah'll git back to ya's. Reckin I oughta have ya's an answer in a day or so. Don't see no problem to it a'tal."

"Very good then. The next item we need to discuss is food. How we going to feed these men?"

Andrea replied "I have a good supply of food stores, about 3 years worth in pre-packed units and I thought I might supplement that with regular grocery items. I take it that might be a problem?"

"Land sakes child." This from Charlotte. "You know as well as I do those men need proteins and fats if they are to be healing torn flesh and muscle. Those food units all depend on dried vegetables and TVP. You didn't buy the freeze-dried kind did you, the ones with real meat?"

"Actually I have some but only a few cases. The rest are what you described, dehydrated units. The protein is mostly vegetable."

"Norma," Charlotte turned to face the woman who had spoken earlier of her husband, "You're the food expert. What do you suggest?"

"Oh dear me. I was afraid you might ask that. Well then. Well. I've got 50 quarts of home canned beef and pork I can spare. Then there are other items, as you know. But I'll have to talk to the others about that."

"Oh heavens, Norma. You already know how everyone feels," Jeanette, the woman who had previously explained about Norma's husband, interjected. The woman then turned to face Andrea. "Norma always worries there won't be enough food to go around if times get rough. Lord knows she has done a very good job of gathering for everyone. She even taught me how to can peaches so they don't turn color. She was the best cook the Batavia Schools ever had."

"Alright then," Raymond stated. "We'll see to rounding out food stores with an eye towards more proteins. I don't know that we'll be able to address the issue of freezer space very well so that leaves that avenue out." He looked thoughtful for a moment, then added, "No, come to think of it, I bet we can address that issue. Scott, think we can come up with a diesel genset, say maybe 15 kW?"

"Aye-yep. Happen to know where they's a one reasonable, trailer mount too. Good 'un; it's a Cat."

"Problem solved then. And we won't have to worry about power bills being used to track you either. If we can keep you completely off the grid that's another layer of security for you."
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter II - Part II

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

Once the 3 of them were outside Elder Klein lead them off to the side of the porch, though remaining in full view of anyone who might go in or out of the store. Mrs. Klein had a very meek posture about her and evidently deferred to her husband in all matters. She simply stood there quietly with hands clasped in front of her.

"First, I must ask ye what thy intentions are before I may refer thee. We have strict rules about dealing with Outsiders."

"Well sir, I need some renovations made to the buildings on this farm. It's very important for reasons I cannot go into, except to say that they are ethical and desperately needed. It will benefit many people, I can say that."

Isaac turned to his wife and addressed her. "Wären Elisheba, Sie so gütig als zu reden mit dieser jungen Frau für mich, während ich mein vollende, ist Einkaufen?" [Elisheba, wouldst thou be so kind as to talk with this young woman for me whilst I complete my shopping?]

"Aber selbstverständlich Isaac, was auch immer thou wünscht." [But of course Isaac, whatever thou wishes.]

Looking up to face Andrea - because of her bonnet and the fact that she was perhaps an inch over 5' tall herself she stated "Come, lass, and and let us sit under the tree. There is a bench where we may converse in privacy." That said she turned and lead the way around the corner to where a large stately elm spread it's branches, providing welcoming shade from the afternoon sun. She sat upon it herself, spreading her dress as she did so that her black-stockinged legs were properly covered and then sat patiently awaiting for Andrea to settle herself.

"We Plain folk have very strict rules of propriety. When a man addresses womenfolk we speak plainly and politely. It is part of our Ordnung. Isaac thinks as though thouest dost trust him not. We are suspicious of English in general as so many think us backward." Her accent hinted strongly of her native German tongue, part of her heritage as a member of the Old Order community.

"Ich entschuldige mich, Frau Klein, wenn ich ihren Ehemann oder sich beleidigt habe. Es war nicht meine Absicht selbstverständlich." [I apologize, Mrs. Klein, if I have offended your husband or yourself. It was not my intention of course.] She spoke slowly and deliberately, choosing her words as she went, struggling with a language she had not practiced at length for years now.

Frau Klein was much taken aback by Andrea's apparently familiar use of the German language. Such was almost unheard of amongst the English, as they referred to their fellow Americans, in deferrance to their use of the language. However, she recovered very quickly and addressed her using the familiar tongue:
"Sie sprechen Die Sprache sehr gut. Ich habe keine Idee gehabt. Es ist Das Niedrige Deutsch das wir jeden Tag benutzen. Sprechen Sie auch mit dem hohen Dialekt?" [You speak The Language very well. I had no idea. It is the Low German we use every day. Do you also speak with the High dialect?]

"Nein mache ich nicht ich bange bin, aber ich habe von Meinem Onkel Ludwig gelernt. Er ist auf Sprechen von Deutsch zu Hause gewachsen. Ich bin ursprünglich vom Schleswig-Holstein Gebiet in Westlichem Iowa." [No I do not I am afraid, but I learned from my Uncle Ludwig. He grew up speaking German at home. I am originally from the Schleswig-Holstein area in western Iowa.]

"Ach sehe, ich. Es erfreut mich zu hören, daß unser gewählte Zunge von Einem Außenstehenden hat. Ich wird Gewiss Isaac auch beeindruckt werden bin. Es ist fast unerhört. Jetzt, bitte muß ich ihren Namen wissen, bevor wir weiter sprechen." [Oh, I see. It pleases me to hear our chosen tongue from an Outsider. I am certain Isaac will also be impressed. It is almost unheard of. Now, please, I must know your name before we speak further.]

Uncertain whether she should reveal her true identity or not, not wishing to actually lie to this woman, but heedful of Raymond's cautions about security she used the name she had given Frederick as well as the realtor. Elisheba nodded, carefully making no mention of the disparity between her surname and her background. The girl was an Englisher after all and their ways were strange.

"So, bitte erzählt mir, was es ist Sie für unsere Männer wünschen, für Sie zu machen, und warum ist es ein solches Geheimnis? Sie müssen wissen, daß wir sehr mißtrauisch von Außenstehenden sind, die Geheimnisse von uns noch behalten, für uns zu wünschen, für sie zu arbeiten. Es ist gegen unsere Glauben, diese behaltenden Geheimnisse." [So, please, tell me what it is you wish for our men to do for you, and why is it such a secret? You must know we are very distrustful of Outsiders who keep secrets from us yet wish for us to work for them. It is against our beliefs, this keeping secrets.]

Unsure yet of herself she proceeded cautiously: "Frau Klein, es ist eine Materie von Leben oder Tod, vielleicht für viele Leute. Haben Sie vom Kämpfen zum Osten und in ander Teil des Landes nicht gehört?"
[Mrs. Klein, it is a matter of life or death, perhaps for many people. Have you not heard of the fighting to the east and in other parts of the country?]

"Selbstverständlich haben wir. Wir verstehen es, und Wunsch nicht, keinen Teil darin zu haben. Wir werden von unseren Glauben von uns mit Krieg verboten beschäftigend. Sogar in Selbstverteidigung. Was muß dies mit Ihnen machen?" [Of course we have. We do not understand it, and wish to have no part in it. We are forbidden by our beliefs from engaging in war. Even in self-defense. What has this to do with you?]

"Würden ihre Glauben auch Sie von diejenigen verhindern pflegend, die Verwundete gewesen sind?"
[Would your beliefs also prevent you from caring for those who have been wounded?]

"Unsere Glauben würden erfordern, daß wir zu die in Bedürfnis neigen. Wir können irgendeinen Teil beim Führen Kriegs nicht nehmen, aber wir können in Krankenhäusern dienen, wenn es von uns erfordert wurde." [Our beliefs wouldst require that we tend to those in need. We may not take any part in waging war, but we may serve in hospitals if it was required of us.]

Forgetting for the moment the common language bond they had established Andrea said, half to herself, "I see." Then "Kann ich auf Ihnen vorherrschen zu erlauben, daß mich in Ihnen anvertraue, und, daß Sie entscheiden, kann ob die Materie weiter erlauben sollte diskutiert werden?" [May I prevail upon you to allow me to confide in you and allow you to decide if the matter should be discussed further?]

Mrs. Klein was very thoughtful, sighing in apparent frustration. "Sehr können gut, Sie in mir im Augenblick anvertrauen und ich werde es bedenken, obwohl es mich nicht erfreut. Aber ich werde, zu dem Sie für die Zeit zuhören." [Very well, you may confide in me for the moment and I will consider it though it pleases me not. But I will to you listen for the time.]

Drawing up her courage then, and speaking in halting German and resorting to English for some words she was not familiar with, Andrea told her as much as she could about the need for a safe haven for wounded patriots, the foreigners who had come into the country and since attacked our own American forces and the need for strict secrecy because of those who would betray American men to foreign invaders.

When she had finished Mrs. Klein sat solemnly, not saying a word, but apparently contemplative, She remained this way, her hands wringing as she seemed to agonize for a minute about what she had just been told, seemingly trying to decide if she should accept it from this strange English. Then, having made up her mind she bade Andrea remain there for the moment while she fetched her husband.

Approaching him as he exited the store, she spoke, head down, but with a determined voice such as he had seldom heard from her in all their years of marriage; "Isaac, ich befürchten, daß es notwendig zu rufen ein Begegnen Der Anderen Älteren ist, schnell. Es ist mein, mein Ehemann hat hat gedacht, daß, was sie sagen muß, ist von der größten Wichtigkeit zu unserer Gemeinschaft und ohne Verspätung angeredet werden muß." [Isaac, I fear tis necessary to call a meeting of the other Elders, quickly. Tis my thought, my husband, that what she has to say tis of the greatest importance to our community and must be spoken of without delay.]
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter III Part I - Preparations

Chapter III - Preparations

Dateline: Iowa

Scott turned out to be as good as his word. Within 2 days she had not only a 15 kW diesel genset on the way but a contact to call about a semi-remote farmstead that was reported to be abandoned but in good shape, and well located away from any likely target areas, yet reasonably accessible. She was due to begin her vacation at the end of the week. The weekend was for finishing up local errands - the visit to the man in What Cheer had been arranged. There was a buying trip to the local discount box-your-own market for canned goods, servicing her Blazer - God alone knew when she might have the chance again - and a hundred other details. Meanwhile, the war waged on with increasing ferocity.

Already the economy was stumbling badly. The Dow Jones had stumbled from it's high of 14,386 to just under 11,000 before trading was suspended for a "holiday." The new government had gone wild trying to shore matters up, issuing edicts and then contradicting themselves, all the while more and more loudly proclaiming that it was "domestic enemies of the state" that were the cause of the troubles.

"We will round up these lawless bandits that persist in terrorizing the children of our nation. We will not rest until decency and safety has once again been restored to the streets of our great nation. With the aid of our valiant allies and friends from the Middle Eastern kingdoms we shall overcome this temporary crisis of lawlessness and rebel insanity."

The radio played almost constantly in hidden corners of the hospital, away from the ears of Administration. In labs and day rooms, anyplace it could safely be played without being overheard the news channels issued forth a steady stream of reports of spotty fighting, increasing every day. Reports of actual occupations were drifting in. Foreign "peacekeepers" would quickly move in and displace local authorities they accused of cooperating with the "bandits." Unconfirmed rumors of executions of officials who resisted were whispered. Two fairly well know radio personalities aligned with the patriot movement suddenly left the airwaves in the middle of their daily broadcasts, their fates unknown.

Others renewed claims to know where the internment camps and reeducation centers were and that citizens were being hauled in by the railcar load, even though no one could actually point to anyplace that was occupied. The railroads were quick to dismiss the rumors as "unfounded hogwash."

Shelves in sporting goods stores were quickly being emptied of every available box of ammunition no matter the caliber. Serious survivalists had long ago stored away cases of military surplus ammunition to feed whatever their favorite firearms were, but now the fence sitters were beginning to stir…

Daletine: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

Mrs. Klein had her way. Though slow by "civilized" standards word of the elders meeting was
quickly passed along by the simple expedient of sending 2 young men from a nearby farm to spread the request Paul Revere style on horseback. Saddles being an uncommon item with the Old Order a simple blanket tossed across the horses' back sufficed and the messengers set off without delay.

Andrea was advised to come to the Klein's' farmstead some 3 miles distant at 7:00 PM. By that time the Elders would be gathered. There was no formal council per se. But the Elders carried great weight as far as community opinion and their decisions were normally acceded to without argument.

Having some 3 hours before she was due to meet with the others Andrea took the time to do some shopping in the store. With an eye towards conserving the genset fuel she bought 4 Aladdin lamps - complete with wall brackets and shades - and 2 extra mantles for each. Added to her growing pile on the counter were barber instruments such as scissors and straight razors and even a strop as well as a stone.

A hot water bath caught her attention. It was 12 quarts in size and had an internal wire rack, perfect for boiling instruments and the like in the absence of electricity. It wasn't perfect but it beat the possibility of having to rely on cold disinfecting alone.

Then were added several gallons of bleach, pine cleaner, a broom, dustpan, string mop and wringer bucket, abrasive scouring pads, flour sack towels and washrags, cast iron trivets, large tongs, metal buckets and other items as well. The eyes of the young woman behind the counter grew with every trip and other shoppers watched with interest while appearing not to. Being a frugal people they were not used to seeing such large purchases. They must have thought the English lady mad.

Finally, she added sacks of rolled oats, flour legumes and other dry foods and then waited while the clerk tallied the order on her pad. The total was nearly $1,000. A nearly monumental amount for purchases that didn't include farm equipment. Two Amish boys helped her carry it out to her vehicle and stow it away, for which she gave each a crisp $5 bill. Eyes wide with delight and astonishment they nevertheless were very polite in their thanks before they ran back inside.

Thus stocked she went back to Hazelton to find a small café that advertised home style meals. The proprietors themselves were Amish and served her meal family style, with serving dishes containing saur brauten, green beans, homemade bread, real butter, fresh sweet corn, and cottage cheese and cole slaw. She selected sweet tea for a drink and dug in, her appetite betraying her reserve. The food was delicious! Afterwards there was a peach pie for dessert. She was too full already and intended to decline it, but the sincere look of the proprietress caused to accept it.

Her meal completed and it being just after 6:00 PM now she took her leave and rove over to the Klein farmstead using the directions provided. Upon arriving she found a modest white frame house nestled amongst the trees, a large garden to one side, and a drive filled with buggies with patiently awaiting horses harnessed to them.

Several younger men stood about, and women she took to be their wives gathered around a yard swing. She was given notice and polite nods of the head welcoming her before they turned back to their conversations.

Knocking at the door she was greeted by Mrs. Klein and shown into an old fashioned parlor, where Mr. Klein and 4 other men awaited. Mrs. Klein quietly excused herself to the far side of the room and sat down, hands folded in her lap. There were no other women present.

"Meine Frau erzählt mir, daß Sie die Sprache sprechen," Mr. Klein began without preamble or introduction. "Ja wurden Herr, ich von einem Onkel als ein junges Mädchen gelehrt. Aber mein Verständnis hat davon etwas mit der Zeit verwelkt." [Yes sir, I was taught by an uncle as a young girl. But my understanding of it has faded somewhat with time."

"'Tis no crime then. We shall speak with the English tongue for tonight."

"Thank you sir, I appreciate that."

"Well then, ye had best be about it and tell us what it is that you have spoken of with my wife this afternoon."

Thus began an hour of speaking, questions from the other elders and her replies to clarify issues. The shock that registered on the collective faces was telling. Though they had access to news it was slow in reaching them and they had no idea of the extent of the problems that faced the nation. At one point two of the elders began to argue with each other in excited German over one revelation she presented, but were just as quickly hushed by Mr. Klein. ""Ich würde bitten, daß jener dir rücksichtsvoll von unserem Gast vorläufig ist. Wir können diese Materien unter uns später diskutieren." [I would ask that ye be considerate of our guest for now. We may discuss these matters amongst ourselves later.]

When she had finished explaining her plans, why she needed work done to the farm, and given her assurances that she respected their beliefs and would ask nothing of them that would intentionally violate their strict adherence to pacifism she concluded simply "That is what I am asking and why. I am asking not for myself but for the sake of our fellow man who are trying to preserve the very freedom of religion, amongst our other freedoms, that we all cherish so much."

The silence that ensued was almost deafening in its intensity. The men sat on their chairs with thoughtful expressions on their faces, eyes darting to look at each other in a sort of unspoken exchange.

Finally Elder Klein turned to his hitherto quiet wife and said ""Elisheba, wenn Sie diese junge Frau nehmen würden, die wir diese Materie unter uns diskutieren würden." [Elisheba, if thou wouldst take this young woman we would discuss this matter amongst ourselves]

Rising Mrs. Klein quietly rose and headed for the door, motioning for Andrea to follow her. Once they had passed out of the room she turned and closed the door behind her and then said "Come, we will have lemonade in the kitchen."

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

Following the group meeting at Charlotte's house future meets were limited to either Charlotte, her brother Raymond, or both, at varying locations. Information was exchanged, security items such as the prepaid cell phone and prepaid calling cards, "official" papers for worst case use that would identify her as a Red Cross volunteer attached to a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) and pre-arranged code words for future communication.

In the case of the cell phone it had been deliberately purchased in Dubuque so that should it ever attract attention it would look like it was purchased by someone already in the area and a couple of calls made on it to totally innocuous numbers. If the history for that number were ever called up it would look as if someone was checking on a family member at a nursing home in Florida or calling a sibling in Nebraska.

Andrea was instructed in the use of dead drops, basic security measures, and even short wave radio operation. She was also presented with a pre-tuned SW that had only 5 available channels, pre-designated as 1-5 in random order. The range would vary of course with weather and certain terrain features but the channels would be monitored continuously as part of a network. Her code name as part of this network was "Bambi" as a play on her official designation of Battalion Aid Midwest. Keeping with the theme her contact was designated "Thumper."

The hospital continued to function pretty much as before. One male nurse - Charlie he was called - failed to show for work the day before Andrea was due to begin her vacation. It was rumored amongst the staff that he had gone to join the resistance after it was determined that his phone went unanswered and his pages were ignored. Somebody recalled that he had mentioned once being an Army medic before entering nursing school, adding fuel to the rumors. Opinions varied widely, with some staff members stating in unequivocally that whatever the government was doing was fine with them in any case. Sides in the matter began to quietly form.

As one might expect the more liberal staff members also tended to be more vocal. Such had been the case across the country increasingly for the past 30 years. Most of the "libs" tended to be in administrative positions, the CEO of the hospital chief amongst them. A born fence straddler, forming his stated opinions around whomever seemed to be the stronger force. Rather than challenge the edicts that came down from the government he offered platitudes. "We need to remember who pays the lion's share of the bills around here. Our Medicare and Medicaid mix constitutes 74% of our receivables. We can't just refuse to acknowledge the new regulations simply because we don't like them." Thus, rather than issue instructions on how to handle any future patriot combat cases, bearing in mind what had happened with the last one, he simply waffled and said he'd "look into it." Such is what one might expect from a city-bred product of a liberal university.

Charlotte continued to treat Andrea as she always had at work. She was friendly, but not overbearingly so. An outstanding worker who regarded her patients always as first and foremost. At shift end she might walk to the parking lot with Andrea, engaged for all appearances in casual conversation centered on the ortho patient in 227 or the surgical case in 211 whom was poorly compliant with post-op instructions. As they reached their vehicles she might suddenly "remember" that she had a bag of early tomatoes to pass along and run and fetch it, to return a minute later with a small paper sack full of supplies left over from floor procedures, with a layer of cherry tomatoes on top for cover. Between the 2 of them they managed to gather quite a stash of the small but nevertheless important items needed for daily care. There were unused disposable toothbrushes and tubes of dentifrice from admission kits, glass thermometers and their plastic cases - even though the hospital used tympanic thermometers they still came with the kits for infectious cases - hotel sized bars of soap, lotion, shampoo. Charlotte had always been one to help the other nurses when it came time to admit or dismiss patients and they were busy, and now it became apparent why.

Today, her last day before her "vacation" began when Andy reached her Blazer there was an envelope stuck under the wiper, sealed and the words "Sorry, I scraped your bumper" written on it. Walking around her vehicle she could see no marks that had not been there before. Tearing open the envelope she retrieved the note inside:

"Sory for the decepton it was necessary. Go look by the loding dock bin for a pakage. it is for you. I know its okay God bless."

Puzzled and taken aback she thought it had to be some sort of hoax. They knew? Who were "they?" had she somehow been discovered, her intentions? Had she said something wrong during the chats at the nurses' station or in ER? She could recall nothing of the sort.

Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor she left as she normally would and went off to fill her gas tank. Not that it needed it but it gave a chance to think and to appear unfazed to a casual observer who may have seen the envelope and been curious, or someone deliberately watching her for her reaction.

Later, as twilight settled upon the land, she returned, this time dressed in dark jeans and light jacket - fortunately the temps tonight were in the upper 60's, it having been threatening rain all day - and a pair of hikers. Over 2 hours had passed and she hoped that anyone watching would have given up by now, yet still her heart was pounding at the thought that her intended mission had been discovered. These were dangerous times after all as the various opinion groups polarized into pro and con over the new government.

Parking 2 blocks away well out of sight from her destination she came around through the delivery drive, keeping to the shadows as best she could. She saw no one and the delivery area itself was faced by windowless walls belonging to the air handling and boiler rooms across the drive.

Approaching the dumpster bin she checked once again to see that the way was clear, then noticed that one side had been left open. This was the one normally used for non-flammable bio-hazardous waste that couldn't be destroyed in the hospital's incinerator. Rigid plastic lined cardboard boxes contained used needles, glassware and instruments. Using a small Mini-Mag that she habitually carried in her purse otherwise she switched it on and shielded it with her hand, allowing limited light to stream between her fingers.

There, in the corner nearest her was a red plastic biohazard bag, contrary to procedure. Otherwise all the rest were the required sharps boxes. Pulling it out carefully by the neck she marveled at its weight. It was over 20 pounds, and a faint metallic clinking issued from within as she moved it. Setting it carefully on the ground she noted a note attached to the side with Scotch tape. Ripping it off she read:

"This for you its okay all being replacd with new God bless"

Now extremely puzzled but not daring to inspect the package further lest she be inadvertently discovered she picked up the bag and carefully holding it away from her made her way back to her truck. Setting the bag on the passenger side floor she then went around to the driver's side, took a last look around to make sure she hadn't been followed, as quickly as true darkness was falling, got in and drove away. Taking a roundabout way home she stopped in a city park.

Opening the tailgate she retrieved the bundle and placed it inside, then carefully opened the bag using a Swiss Army Knife. Inside was a green surgical wrap bundle that jangled with movement. Carefully removing it she laid it open and gasped at the contents.

Inside were surgical instruments, dozens of them, several thousand dollars easily of high quality German-made instruments. They were used but in excellent shape. A list accompanied them, a standard quantity list used by Central Supply when they repacked kits following the cleaning and resterilization of the packs used in surgery.


BASIC ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY SET - ORHC DR. SINGH

Description Quantity

Metal Ruler 6" 1
Scalpel handle #3 1
Scalpel handle #4 1
Lister Bandage Scissors (One Large Ring) 8" 1
Operating Scissors S/S Str 5-1/2" 1
Operating Scissors S/B Str 5-1/2" 2
Operating Scissors S/B Cvd 5-1/2" 1
Stitch Scissors Standard 5-1/2' 1
Mayo Dissecting Scissors Str 6-3/4" 1
Mayo Dissecting Scissors Cvd 6-3/4" 2
TC Wire Cutting Scissors Angled 4-3/4" 1
Mixter Forceps Right Angle 7-1/4" 4
Kelly Forceps Str 5-1/2" 12
Kelly Forceps Cvd 5-1/2" 12
Rochster-Pean Forceps Cvd 7-1/4" 3
Rochester-Pean Forceps Str 7-1/4" 3
Dressing Forceps 5-1/2" 2
Dressing Forceps 8" 2
Tissue Forceps 1 x 2 Teeth 5-1/2" 2
Tissue Forceps 1 x 2 Teeth 8" 2
TC Mayo-Hegar NH Serr 7" 1
TC Mayo-Hegar NH Serr 8" 1
Allis Tissue Forceps 4 x 5 Teeth 6" 2
Allis Tissue Forceps 5 x 6 Teeth 7-1/2' 2
Needle Nose Pliers 5-1/2" 1
Bone/Cartilage Clamp Cvd 8" 1
Kern Bone Forceps w/o Ratchet Extra Small 5/3/4" 1
Kern Forceps 8-1/2" 1
Lewin Bone Forceps Serr 7" 1
Lowman Clamp Small Jaw 1
Lowman Clamp 1" x 1-1/2" Jaw 4-3/4" 1
Liston Bone Forceps Angled 7-3/4" 1
Stille-Liston Bone Forceps Str 10-1/2" 1
Beyer Rongeur Cvd on Flat 7" 1
Ruskin Rongeur Str 7-1/4" 1
Hajek Bone Mallet 8" 1
Hibbs Osteotome 10 mm 9-1/2" 1
Hibbs Osteotome 13 mm 9-1/2" 1
Hibbs Chisel 10 mm 9-1/2" 1
Hibbs Chisel 13 mm 9-1/2" 1
Key Elevator ¼" x 7-1/2" 1
Key Elevator ½" x 7-1/2" 1
Sayre Elevator Double End Blunt 6-1/2" 1
Weitlaner-Beckman Retractor Sharp 6' 1
Weitlaner Retractor 3 x 4 Prong Sharp 6-1/2" 1
Backhaus Towel Clamp 3-1/2" 4
Backhaus Towel Clamp 5-1/4" 12
Frazier Suction Tube 8 French 1
Frazier Suction Tube 10 French 1
Frazier Suction Tube 12 French 1
Hibbs Retractor 7-1/2' 2
Senn Retractor Double End Sharp 6-1/4" 2
Senn Retractor Double End Blunt 6-1/4" 2
Metzenbaum Scissors Cvd 7" 1

Andrea recalled that Dr. Singh had recently requested entirely new instrument packages, claiming that the older ones were dulled from use and not suitable for resharpening. There had been a minor broohaha over that one. Needless to say the surgical instrument repair service that visited every couple of months took exception but Singh was the prima donna of the surgical staff and Administration eventually bent over backwards when he threatened to leave if his demands were not met. She recalled from her time spent assisting in OR while working Float that there had been several instrument packs. Doubtless the others would be given to the fellow in What Cheer who usually got the discards and outdates from the area hospitals. No matter, he was on her list of people to see. Perhaps he might agree to part with some more?

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

In the kitchen Andrea and Frau Klein exchanged minor pleasantries, mostly centering on matters of the kitchen. While she was a pretty fair cook herself courtesy of growing up on the farm she was impressed by the Amish use of basics in their cooking with very few convenience items, save for gelatins and various pre-ground grain flours.

Sitting on the Hoosier cabinet were Schokoladenbraunes, Kuchen Apfel Torte, and Frucht Brot.



All the cooking was apparently done over an old-fashioned wood burning cook stove set against an outside wall. Cast iron cookware adorned a rack on the wall beside it; utensils filled an earthen crock. The sink was placed underneath a window overlooking the back yard, a hand pump secured to the counter beside it. A Servel kerosene refrigerator sat in a corner with barely a sound issuing from it. A grain mill, a hand cranked glass butter churn, crockery bowls - all stacked on top of the Hoosier. All in all it would have made many a yuppie drool over the thought of having a kitchen that looked so "authentic." Only in this case not only was it, but everything she saw was actually used in the day-to-day operation of the household.

The table they sat at while they waited for the men to discuss matters in private was oaken, well polished by many years of use. It looked like a genuine antique, and most likely was, as were the hand crafted straight back chairs they sat in. Overhead hung a cottage lantern, now lit with the encroaching evening darkness.



After a while the conversation waned and Andrea simply sat taking in the kitchen décor, beautiful in its unadorned, functional simplicity. It struck her that perhaps these people may be able to claim a higher moral ground than the rest of society, for they lived simply but well, frugally by society's standards but debt free, and seemingly cared not for the events taking place in the outer world at large. Their greatest purpose in life was to be obedient to God's commandments as they saw them. Pacifistic they had yet survived centuries and grown. Crossed first Europe fleeing intolerance, then fleeing again across an ocean to settle in a wilderness. They were true pioneers then and remained so today even in the 21st century.

While she sat there, lost in reflection the swinging door to the hallway opened and Elder Klein entered the room.

"We have discussed the matter and have reached a decision. We wouldst speak with thee again."
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter III Part II

Dateline: Iowa

"Vacation!" The word sounded alien to her ears, like there must be some sort of mistake. She knew better of course, but still it was strange to call her mission for the next 2 weeks a vacation. The situation across the country was growing steadily worse. Already whole towns in Virginia were reported to be under martial law. Springfield, Missouri was reported to be the scene of intensive fighting. Missouri!!! Of all places. How could things have gotten so far out of hand already? Why, that was less than 8 hours away by car, practically on her back doorstep. Sure there were the riots in California when news of the assassination was announced, and the initial panicked flight from the large cities but all that had slowed if not all but halted. But Missouri! So close to home!

There were the travel restrictions of course, but so long as you stayed off the main highways and the interstates there wasn't a lot of hassle here - yet. IHP activity had increased on the highways but for the most part the county sheriffs weren't particularly active by comparison. There were rumors of the gun confiscation's coming to Iowa but so far, save for some modest efforts in the cities like Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City it wasn't widespread. Guns! How could she have forgotten! Another item to add to her list; a visit to the family farm. It was time to do some digging.

She slept sporadically that night. Try as she might she could not get her mind to turn itself off. The enormousness of the task ahead of her was daunting to say the least. Instead of offering her services out east, where the fighting was initially confined for the most part she found herself trying to build an underground hospital - a safe haven - right here in Iowa. It seemed that soon it would not be so far from the fighting after all. The minor skirmishes that had produced a few wounded seemed destined to grow into major battles with dozens if not hundreds of men involved in each.

Trying to find news on the internet was increasingly difficult. More and more patriot sites were no longer accessible. 3 weeks following the assassination all official US government sites were blocked "because of attempts by organized crackers to disrupt legitimate and needed business of the Peoples' States of America as the valiant public servants strive to distribute desperately needed food and medical supplies to the enslaved peoples of the terrorist occupied areas." More likely the massive downloads of data, references and military files had finally caused a panic when it was realized the potential threat it represented. Only the mind-numbing flurry of activity in and about the Capital had allowed it to on as long as it did, but it was long enough. Thousands of computers and tens of thousands of mega-data disks had been filled with everything that could possibly be of use. Names and addresses of federal agents of every branch, locations of federal offices and storage sites, medical data, military training manuals, satellite data and even road maps of every description. The USGS site was a particular favorite.

CNN issued only censor approved reports. Fox News Network was somewhat better but not much. Even the BBC news was strangely quiet about affairs in the States. But then even they had finally fallen prey to the predations of the Labor Party well before Tony Blair's massive heart attack that forced him to leave office several years before. Britannia no longer ruled, torn apart from within, as it now seemed the US was destined to be.

Finally, in the wee hours of the morning she drifted off to a fitful slumber, rent by nightmares of torn bodies and men with mangled limbs, their life's blood seeping into the thirsty soil as war raged all around them, strange dark faced men with blue turbans on their heads mowing down militiaman and housewife alike.

She awakened early the next day. She planned a busy day beginning with a trip to What Cheer to visit with the man who had all the surplus medical supplies collected from hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the state and beyond. He had been doing this for years, strictly out of his own pocket at first. Eventually it had gown to such huge proportions that he once filled 3 boxcars to capacity - the use of which had been generously donated by a contributor - and still had more materials left over that he could not possibly fit in. With any luck he might be similarly stocked even now, what with travel restrictions he certainly hadn't been to Mexico lately.

Taking back roads she left town before the streets filled with what traffic there was these days. Layoffs had begun at the John Deere plant and the Morrell plant was talking of similar staff cuts. Though still relatively unaffected here in the Midwest, barricaded as Iowa was by the Mississippi the just-in-time purchasing systems that so many large businesses depended upon was having telling effect.

Eventually she had to cut across to State Hwy. 21 to get across the Skunk River. Seeing only local traffic she stayed on it as she continued northwards, seeing no signs or official vehicles of any sort as she crossed 192 just outside of Delta. What Cheer lay ahead a few miles. But considering that 21 lead all the way up to I-80 and might be seen as useful convoy route she took the next county road she could and came into town from the east. Past the old brick factory, which was nothing more than a chimney and pond these days, and the old coal mine tool manufactory, she came in with quiet caution. She'd never been to What Cheer but the directions were easy enough to follow. The farm was marked with a tall blue Harvestore silo. As she pulled into the drive a pair of dogs came running out to meet her, playfully leaping at her door.

Her contact, whose name was David, greeted her before she could knock on the door. He was a jovial looking fellow, dark curly hair with a touch of gray, not gone to fat around the middle and muscular arms extending from his sleeves, ending in leather chore gloves.

He beamed a smile at her as she approached him, meeting him partway between her truck and the garage entry door. The dogs followed along, leaping excitedly. They heeded his commands after a moment though, but stayed in the immediate area.

"Angel, Michael! Down dogs! Good dogs. Down Angel. Good dog Michael, good boy."

"Hi, you must be Andrea. I'm David Strobel." He held out his hand in greeting and she took it, replying to his sturdy grip with one of her own, strong for a woman but in no way able to match his had he notion to test strength, from the looks of him.

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

Frau Klein and Andrea rejoined the men in the parlor. The faces of the men assembled were expectant. She could not otherwise read them. Andrea was allowed to remain standing, not that there were any empty chairs in the room to offer her. She felt as though she were somehow on trial.

Herr Klein began once they were gathered once more. "Ye have given us much thought and twas not taken lightly. On matters of our faith we are most careful, for the Bible tells us "But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."

"But as Herman," indicating one of the other Elders present, "reminded us, in Romans 12 it tells us also "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in
so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."



Heads nodded solemnly about the room. Andrea waiting impatiently for their decision, hoping it wasn't contrary to her request.

Herr Klein waited for a long minute before continuing. "It has been decided by the Elders of our small community that to assist thee wouldst not be to go against the Bible. Tis our wish that thee accomplish the task which thee have set for thyself. Und so, with the agreement of the other brethren waiting for us outside we give thee our blessings and offer our help."

She stood there, stock still, hardly daring to breathe. Was it true, they really would help her then? Was she going to be able to turn the abandoned farmstead into a safe haven for the wounded men of the patriot forces? Oh, but they first had to poll the others outside. Over the past couple of hours she had managed to forget the others gathered outside upon her arrival. But surely they would understand also, especially if their elders said it was okay?

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

David proved to be a most interesting fellow. He had been gathering, storing and transporting medical and household supplies and clothing to Mexico, the Appalachians, Indian reservations and even the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee for years. In 15 years he had gone through 2 engines and 3 trucks, and was now looking for another truck, having broken the suspension completely on the last one on a trip to a Hopi Indian reservation carrying clothing, household goods and basic medical and baby necessities. His greatest shortcoming, she learned over coffee in the kitchen, was that he could not say no when asked to aid others. Though it strained his marriage and caused friction within his family, whom would be called upon to tend the farm during his absences, he felt that God had called him to do this work, and he could not refuse.

He smile was infectious, his goodwill shown through like a beacon on a foggy night. When given cash to fuel his truck he like as not would give it to an orphanage in Mexico or to a poor mountain family in need of basic medicines. He was an ambassador of hope and charity wherever he went. And now he sat patiently, listening attentively as Andrea outlined for him her plan to provide safe haven and care for the men and women fighting the would be conquerors of America.

"You see, Mr. Strobel, because it is effectively the government - legal or not - that we, that is to say, the patriot movement, is fighting, the regular hospitals cannot be depended upon. Too often the men are arrested when a sympathizer reports them. Some have even been shot as they lay in their beds recovering from wounds."

He nodded at this last. He had heard of the arrest right there in Ottumwa Regional Hospital of Howard Skinner by federal agents. Howard had been wounded in action on the Illinois side near St. Louis when agents loyal to the new President had interrupted a group of patriots and National Guardsmen as they sought to strip clean the local armory. The ensuing fight quickly devolved into a stalemate with few casualties on either side until Howard had stood up to pitch a grenade behind the cluster of sedans that effectively barricaded the patriot side from fleeing. Though wounded by a shotgun blast he had nevertheless turned the tide of the action, severely demoralizing the hard corps agents after they lost 1 KIA and 3 more WIA from the single well-placed grenade.

Finally, as she neared the end of her plea David stood up and said, "Let's go out to the barn. We can talk more on the way."

Indicating she should proceed ahead of him once outside she waited while he closed the dogs in the garage. "They'd just try to follow and get in the way," he explained. Then he lead her to what he said was the old milkhouse, a whitewashed block structure across the farmyard.

It was dim inside, the windows covered from years of grime, until he found the lightswitch. There before them, stacked nearly to the ceiling where box after box of supplies, an entire room. Descriptions and brand names leapt out at her. Many boxes were opened while others appeared sealed and untampered with. She turned to him and looked at him directly, questions in her eyes, waiting for him to make the next move.

"Ordinarily you understand I couldn't. These have all been discarded by hospitals and other places and aren't supposed to be used. That's why I gather them and take them to Mexico or Honduras. You see, they don't care there. Their laws aren't like ours. They can't afford to be picky. Only rich people can afford medical care. They have plenty of doctors and good ones too. But they graduate from school, move to a small city and they have nothing to practice with because there's no money."

"So, then, what you are saying is."

"So what I am saying," he interrupted, "is unless we can do something to win this war for our country I won't be making any more trips. And that is going to hurt a lot more people eventually than giving this to you."

"Oh, I cannot thank you enough. You have no idea what this means" she said.

"Welllll, yes in a way I do. See my dad came home from the war with a bullet in his leg. He still has it in there, and if you give him the chance he'll tell you that bullet means freedom for all of us, because he didn't get shot just to satisfy some politician."

"So, anyway, whatever you want, whatever you can use, it's yours. Take as much as you want. If you can tell me what you are looking for maybe I can help find it."

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

Outside where the others waited the mood was quiet. The men spoke of matters such as men are wont of, in this case being the effect the war in the Outside world might have upon their little community. Already the price of the kerosene they fueled their lamps and lanterns with had increased in price by 28 cents a gallon and the store owner said he expected it to go much higher if things continued the way they were. While the community itself was in no danger of collapse yet they depend upon the outside world for things they were unable produce themselves.

The women for their part were concerned with the increased prices for the baking goods they bought that they were unable to produce for themselves, the flavorings and spices. The price of spun goods was bound to increase but they could work around that. The community in Van Buren County far to the south still wove cloth on wooden looms. They could be depended upon to assist their Brethren.

A pair of Dietz lanterns had been retrieved from the buggys while they awaited word from within, and were now lit in the waning light of day. Their soft glow cast shifting shadows on the two groups assembled outside.



At the sound of the screen door opening at the back of the house they all turned to look with casual interest as first the Elders, followed by Andrea and Frau Klein, emerged. They gathered about respectfully, waiting to hear of the news.

Isaac addressed them, looking them over as he did so. He drew himself up, hands holding onto the sides of his vest.

"Lieb Brodern, wir fragen den Namen Des Herr auf unserer Gemeinschaft diese Nacht, daß er Anmut uns mit seiner Weisheit." [Dear brethren, we ask the Lord's name upon our community this night, that he grace us with His wisdom.]

Then he lowered his head and led them in prayer.

"Unser Vater, der ist Kunst in Himmel, heilig ihr Name. Ihr Königreich kommt, Ihres auf
Erden wird gemacht werden, als es in Himmel ist. Geben Sie uns diesen Tag unser tägliches Brot, und vergeben Sie uns unsere Sünden, während wir diejenigen vergeben, die gegen uns sündigen. Führen Sie uns nicht in Versuchung, aber liefern Sie uns von allem Übel. Für Ihres ist das Königreich, und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit sind Ihres, für je und immer. Amen."

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

David and she sifted through stack after stack of boxes of every kind and medical device imaginable. It soon became evident that they were going to have to start a new stack of "keepers" vs. "throwers" outside.
The very first case set out was assorted Foley catheters. Besides being used for, well, urinating through, they could also be used as feeding tubes, stomach tubes and even improvised chest decompression tubes. Also in the box she noted were several Texas catheters which might also prove useful. So long as they were there anyhow. Just so they ran across some Foley collection bags as well.

Right underneath that box was a partial box of disposable bedpans and urinals tossed together. More must-have items. Personal hygiene and elimination was going to be a problem. Doubtless whatever Scott had come up with it was not going to offer a private bath for every bed. She had noticed a commode sitting atop a heap in the far corner. That was definitely going to be added as soon as they worked their way back there.




A couple boxes of latex exam gloves - set aside until they found more. Oxygen tubing. Useful. Also set aside. Chux incontinence pads. Useful as well but she really hoped to find some of the reusable variety as trash disposal could be a problem. Still, they had other uses as well and 2/3 of a case of them was set outside.

More exam gloves in a large box. Set by the door and the first couple boxes tossed in. Disposable syringes - definite must have. These were 3 cc x 1-1/2" 22 ga needle, the most commonly used size for IM administrations. There were probably 30 in the box yet, a fair start to add to what she had gathered previously. Not that she had a lot of injectable meds to worry about.

Moving aside a stack of bedside stands David called to her: "Won't you be needing one of these?" He had a big grin on his face as he said this.

Looking over she saw him picking up a desktop sized autoclave unit. Stumbling across boxes between the two of them she rushed over to look at it.

"Oh David, this is great! You have no idea! I was afraid I was going to have to boil instruments. But this is so much better, if it works. What's the tag say?" The words seemed to come out as one long sentence.

There was a red bio-medical services tag hanging from the handle. The script stated "Removed from service June 19, 2008, replaced. Store until further notice." Opening the unit after he'd set it on a free bedside stand she saw that the trays were intact and the door seal seemed to be good. The power cord seemed in good repair with a standard hospital grade-grounding plug. There seemed to be nothing wrong with it that she could see. Most likely it had simply been replaced with a newer model. The manufacturer's data plate on the back said Date of Manufacture 03-78. It was older but built like the proverbial farmer's toilet.



"Well young lady it looks like you are in the sterilization business now." His grin was even wider as he said that and it was hard not to laugh, so she didn't even bother to hold back. Peels of laughter filled the building as they both gave in to a moment's mirth. It felt good to release the built-up tension of the past few weeks.

With the discovery of so important an item they renewed their efforts with frenzy. Boxes of plastic water pitchers were set aside to gain access to a promising box labeled with the Allegient brand name. Wonder of wonders it held what the label promised - spinal block trays! According to the box there were supposed to be 24 units and it appeared as though only 3 were missing. They'd expired nearly a year before, hence why they'd been discarded, but the drugs were notorious for having a long shelf life and the manufacturers for short dating as a way of covering themselves as far as liability concerns.

These would make possible surgical procedures below the level of the block as all nerve branches below that point would be effectively shut off while the anesthetic lasted, effectively 90 minutes for the 1% Lidocaine that was included. Yet another prize to add to the pile growing outside.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter IV - Part I

PATRIOT AID STATION IV - Beginning the Harvest

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

The meeting with the other members of the Amish community at Hazelton had gone well. They listened as the Elders spoke of the task that had been requested of the community, that of providing carpenters, and the purpose for the project.

Initially there was some misgiving as it was seen as perhaps becoming directly involved with the ongoing war. One man went so far as to offer the well known Biblical quotation which was part of the basis for the pacifistic beliefs: "Wenn es möglich ist, als viel als lieth in Ihnen, friedlich lebt mit allen Männern. Rächen Sie [ist] nicht sich, aber [ziemlich] werde Ort zu Zorn: für es, Rache meiner; ich zurückzahlen geben wird geschrieben, sagt Den Herrn." [If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, says the Lord.] Romans 12:18-19

He in turn was answered by the man next to him.

"Daher wenn ihr Feind Hunger, führt ihn zu; wenn er Durst, trinkt ihn gibt: für in so Machen, das Sie Kohlen des Feuers auf seinem Kopf häufen wird. Seien Sie nicht Überwindung des Übels, aber Überwindung Übel mit gut." [Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in
so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.] Romans 12:20-21

Then in English, he presumed for Andrea's sake: "Tis not fighting we are asked to do but to be of aid to those whose choice it is to defend others. I see no wrong in this. If one might be of aid by the repair of a barn than might this man pick up his hammer and his nails and be humble before God knowing that he did right in His name."

With this his wife separated herself from the other women and walking over to him she placed her hand in his, and facing the Elders stated: "It is my place to be besides mine husband. Wherewith he goeth also shall I be. There will be work of woman as well."

The mood of the small assemblage changed with this statement. Heads nodding all around the man who had questioned the appropriateness of seeming to get involved with the war effort spoke once again.

"Thus be it said and well. The journey though is not short. I will ask tomorrow of our friend in town if he would be so kindly as to once again carry wagons and teams that they be spared the distance."



Another joined him, saying, "There will be ladders and tools to move and timbers as well. It is well we are prepared to make quick work for no man shall be healed but that we complete our work."

There was no talk of payment for their services. If the Elders had decided to place the matter before those assembled this night than it had been already discussed. They knew the matter would have been approached with righteous caution.

More minor discussion ensued and in the end it was decided that Andrea would carry several of the Brethren to the farmstead in her Blazer in the morning. Having taken the precaution of obtaining a county map from her contact after visiting the place she was able to provide directions to those following later.

One of the couples kindly invited her to stay the night with them as they lived but a quarter mile down the road. They were middle aged and had no children living at home they explained so it would be no inconvenience. Besides it would save her the expense of the motel in Oelwein. She gladly if somewhat shyly accepted, overwhelmed at their generosity.

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

The shopping spree with David continued. More boxes of gloves were found in varying sizes and tossed over into the larger box by the door. David found a pile of isolation masks in one box of assorted items. They were quickly removed and added to another containing paper gowns, bouffant hats and shoe covers. A few worn scrubs likewise located were added.

They worked their way methodically through the room. Cases of outdated IV solutions and admixtures, tubings, more catheters, disposable needles, Vacutainer blood tubes, a Hemovac, suction tubing, pipettes, medicine cups. A few assorted instruments from some hospital storeroom, dating from whom knew when were considered and discarded as being of no use. Andrea could guess at what a few of them were. Judging from the rust they must have been in storage since the 60's. Not surprising the way some hospitals hung on to everything, working or not.

Catheterization trays - added for use with the Foleys. Hospital disinfectants that had been discarded in favor of a new supplier, frequent small lots of sutures, some stainless steel surgical wire, hamper bags but no ring frame to be found to support them. She'd figure something out so in they went. Sheets were tossed into a recently emptied box by the armload. A few worn thermal blankets, nearly 2 dozen disposable pillows - smallish but they would work.

A startling find: a box full of glassware and glass syringes, boxes of reusable needles, a stainless steel autoclave box to hold the syringes, a folding mercury column blood pressure unit, a Bowles stethoscope, a reflecting microscope, slides, cover slips, Petri dishes and more. She looked at David inquiringly.



"Where in the world did you find these," she asked incredulously.

"Oh those. Let's see now. Oh yeah, I remember. There was a doctor's office down in Fairfield that closed. Old guy, in his 80's I think. I got everything in there. There's an exam table in the next room and some other stuff. Pretty neat, huh?"

"Well, if I run short on the regular syringes I can always use these. I haven't seen any outside of a museum before this. I didn't know anyone used them."

"Oh, you had to meet this guy. His father had been a doctor before him and I think some of the stuff was his. He kept it around in case he ever needed it. Some of it has never been used."

"I see that," Andrea said. Some of these syringes are still in boxes. Look, this one is 60 cc. Talk about a monster. There's even an ear syringe in here."



David asked, "So what do you use an ear syringe for? I know it should be obvious but it isn't."

"When people have problems with an excess of wax buildup in their ears the doctor flushes it out with high pressure. It's much safer than actually trying to dig it out, though they make special cerumen scoops for especially tough cases. They still use the syringe afterwards though. Excess wax is bad enough - some people just naturally produce more- but it also catches dirt and stuff. In some cases it's enough to cause hearing loss."

"I always wondered about that. The doctors always said never stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. So I wondered what they did. Oh well, I just use a Q-Tip anyhow." He flashed her a quick grin.

Turning back to the search at hand another large box was secured and set by the doorway. Into it were tossed from the working pile bandages and dressings of every sort as they were found. Kerlix, Kling, ConForm gauze rollers, very few of which were sterile due to damaged packaging but that was hardly a concern as yet. A few packages of sterile 4x4" gauze pads in tub packs, enough perhaps for one application in each, a few tubes of non-sterile bulk sponges in 3x3" size. Probably tossed because they were considered non-standard. Slowly it began to fill but not nearly fast enough to satisfy her. Bandages and dressings were going to be needed by the case. It just was not going to be enough at this rate. Something else to add to her mental list for later.

A pair of wooden crutches. An adjustable metal cane. Plaster casting supplies. Webril went into the same box with the cast rollers as it was found. She needed stockinet as well. Perhaps as they dug further.

Knee immobilizer, arm sling, a couple of cervical collars, a Cox Splint, crutch tips, a worn hydrocollator pad, wrist braces, and Airstep ankle brace, used therapy putty, Thera-bands in various strengths, some exercise tubing and more miscellaneous small therapy items filled a plastic garbage bag. Tossed on to the growing pile outside.

A handful more syringes, sterile applicators, tongue depressors by the box of 1,000 - may as well. More Chux, a magnifying headset, a worn but serviceable BP cuff set with regular, large adult and thigh cuffs tossed in a small bag.

"Andrea, can you use this?" David was holding up a box a vaselined nasal packing strips, bottles of 50 yds in each.

"Oh yes, definitely. It can be used for packing open wounds that shouldn't be closed yet. I wish it were wider though but it might do in a pinch."

"There are some flat rubber tubes in here too, are they any good? Like tourniquets?"

Looking over she saw he was now holding up a mittful of latex drains. These were inserted into wounds before closure to provide a pathway for gathering fluid to exit. They were essential for proper wound care in some cases where the abdomen had been penetrated or perhaps a deep thigh wound.

"Oh please, David. And if you find any more toss them in as well." She stopped long enough to brush her hair out of her eyes and wipe her brow. It was now past noon and though the block structure was cooler than the outside the exertion and dust were taking their toll.

Dateline: Des Moines, Iowa

Unbeknownst to Andrea or any of her friends, quiet changes were being made in Des Moines. Persons loyal to President Boxer had quietly infiltrated the Governor's Office itself nearly 3 years before. The move was deliberate, because Balsack had been identified as someone who could be persuaded to toe the party line even if underneath the surface he disagreed in principle with some of what Hillary Boxer had in mind.

Iowa was considered a strategic goal because of its location between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The former constituted a significant natural barrier, the last one before the Rocky Mountains themselves. By controlling both sides of the river the locks and damns as well as bridges were also controllable. The bridges from Muscatine to Clinton, but in particular those upon which I-80 crossed the river at Davenport, were considered crucial for when the time came to make the great push westward after first consolidating matters in the eastern regions of the country. The next closest clusters of heavy bridges were located to the north in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, and to the south in the St. Louis area. Because of the relatively heavy units of the Minnesota Guard and Reserves - due in part to the greater natural resources the state possessed consisting of the iron reserves mined there as well, as having a larger population to draw from - it had been decided that it would be isolated for now and addressed later. Perhaps after the winter following the takeover had passed, during which time it could be cut off from the grain supplies of the southern states.

The key to Iowa lay in the Governor's Office. Through that office the Dept. of Public Safety, the National Guard - HQ'ed in nearby Johnston, the Air National Guard - HQ'ed in Des Moines itself, and the Disaster Services Division all reported directly. Control of these units could be safely left to the man who was himself directly influenced by the traitors within his own office.

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

Andrea awoke the following burning to the sound of a quiet knocking at her door. "Fraulien Vhitevater?" the hesitant voice of her hostess asked, Haf you avakened yet?"

Andrea stirred for a moment, failing to realize she was being addressed by the voice at the door. Then, blinking sleep from her eyes she noticed her surroundings and then it all came back to her. She was in an Amish farm home, known to her hosts as Irene Whitewater. Today they were to begin moving to and working on what was going to become her "field hospital" for the resistance movement.

"Yes, I am awake. I'll be right down as soon as I wash up a bit."

"Ist gute. Ve shall zee you in the kitchen. Breakfast is ready nearly." Andrea could here the soft sound of Frau Jacobi's shoes as she walked down the wooden floored hallway and thence down the narrow stairs.

Tossing back the piecework comforter that covered her she arose and dressed swiftly, pausing only to pour water in the washbasin from the plain metal pitcher on the dresser. Quickly freshening herself and using a brush also provided she took the nighttime tangles out her hair, wet a finger and washed away the film on her teeth. There was no mirror in the room so she had to guess at her looks, then decided it didn't matter to these people.

Exiting the bedroom after straightening the bed up - something her mother had always taught her to do - she proceeded downstairs to the kitchen area. Herr Jacobi was seated at the table already, awaiting Frau Jacobi who was busy dishing up the food into red graniteware serving dishes.

As she stood in the doorway, uncertain as to sit or assist her hostess Herr Jacobi turned in his seat to face her to the side. "Guten morgan, Fraulein. I trust thee slept well and are prepared to join us in a simple meal."

"Guten morgan, Herr Jacobi, gnaudige Frau. Danke, Ich sehr gute geslaffen." Then switching back into English, "That smells wonderful. I hope you did not go to any trouble on my part."

Frau Jacobi turned with a platter in one hand and a bowl in the other. "Nein, nein. It is what we always have, no more. Then, setting the food on the table she motioned to an empty chair at the near end. "Bitte, sit. We would be pleased if thou wouldst join us in prayer before our meal."

Inclining her head in a courteous gesture of acceptance Andrea sat herself. "I would be truly delighted."

As soon as Frau Jacobi settled herself they both clasped their hands together in prayer and bowed their heads, Andrea doing likewise. Herr Jacobi led the prayer. "Our Vater in Heaven, ve ask Thy blessings upon this humble house and all who dwell vithin this day. Ve ask Thy blessings upon bountiful fruits of thy earth uv vich ve are about to partake of. Und ve ask Thy blessing upon dis young voman und the mission vich she seeks to fulfill for Thy greater glory. In die name of Thy Son, Jesus, ve ask dis. Amen."

"Thank you, Herr Jacobi. I truly appreciate your prayers," Andrea said. He simply nodded and then reached for the platter, which held bacon and sausage both. Elsewhere on the table were bowls of fried potatoes and gravy, a basket of homemade bread, real butter and jars of jam. She could feel her stomach rumbling at the sight of such a splendid breakfast.

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

After a quick break for iced tea and to look over what they has already tossed outside Andrea and her benefactor dug in once more. More assorted boxes stood behind a wall of miscellany hospital furniture. 3 old fashioned crank beds were piled one atop another. Tempting but she'd never carry them in her Blazer and she had no idea what the layout of the place Scott had found was like. Perhaps they could be returned for later if need be, but meanwhile Raymond had assured her that they had metal-framed military surplus cots aplenty. They even had clamp on IV poles for them, all in olive drab of course.

Shoving aside the stack of beds enough to create a narrow pathway Andrea squeezed through and grabbed the nearest box off the stack. ABD pads, half a box, perhaps 50 in all. Calling out to David she passed it through the narrow passage for him to take and thence carry outside. They could compact things later.

Next was a sack of green surgical linens and towels. Judged useful they were passed back as well, a few spilling out of a tear in the underside of the sack. Hidden underneath the sack was a blue plastic wheeled bin labeled C-Section. Standing 3-1/2 feet tall it had a red lid and would hold approximately 35 gals of water. Removing the lid she found OB pads, a couple of disposable resuscitator bags in their wrappers, bunches of disposable ice bags and some chemical perineal heat pads. Digging further there were boxes of absorbable sutures, a metal kidney pan and 3 prepackaged delivery kits. The latter were especially welcome as it meant sterile drapes and wraps, important for setting up a sterile field to guard against infection introduced during procedures. They could be made to fit as needed. The bin proved too clumsy to move filled as it was so larger items were tossed over the David until it was light enough to manhandle over.

Underneath the bin was a badly deteriorated cardboard box that looked as though it would crumble at a touch. Lifting a once-sealed flap on top she found glass IV bottles. Removing one revealed that it was empty. She was disappointed until she read the faded label: STERILE EVACUATED CONTAINER.

Blood collection bottles! They could be used to collect blood for transfusion! Carefully removing the rest from the crumpled carton she passed them across to David, cautioning him that they were very important and not to drop any. He quickly found another box, which he dumped the contents of and then carefully packed the bottles inside using whatever soft goods were close to hand. There were a dozen bottles in all.

Turning to a dangerously leaning stack next to the workspace she had created there was found smaller boxes of various goods. Oral swabs. A partial roll of latex surgical tubing. A box of budget elastic bandages in various sizes. Also passed over with the others. Stainless steel instrument trays. A dozen passed over, the rest set aside. More syringes, loose sutures, some IV tubing, all tossed together. More expired IV solutions, this time with Potassium Chloride already pre-mixed in. 7 bags of peritoneal dialysis solution. Again, potentially useful. Tegaderm dressings. More gauze rollers, bulk gauze pads, 10x12 ABD dressings, a few pre-packaged procedure kits. These in particular caught her attention and she pulled one up into the light coming through the window so as to examine it better.

Maxum Circumcision Tray

CONTENTS

1 Tray
1 Mosquito Forceps, Curved
1 Mosquito Forceps, Straight
1 Adson Forceps
1 Scissors
1 Probe w/Eye
6 Gauze Sponges
1 Safety Pin
1 Gauze Sponge w/Lubricating Jelly
1 Scalpel
2 Towels
1 Fenestrated Drape
1 CST Wrap

These were an important find. The outer package was dirty but appeared intact, which meant the instruments inside were still sterile. Thus they were ready for use as was. They were standard instruments, useful for almost anything. And if she recalled correctly Maxum used a better grade of disposable instruments in their kits. They would withstand repeated reuse. Gathering all of them up she passed them back then turned her attention to the next case.

Dateline: State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, Iowa

It had been only a few weeks since the changeover in the White House. The regular gun show scheduled for the State Fairgrounds was due this weekend. The opening was set for Saturday at 9:00 AM as usual but a crowd had gathered well before that. The State Fair Patrol had requested additional assistance from DMPD to handle the traffic flow, as a horse show was also scheduled and the outdoor area was across from the 4-H Building where the gun show was held. A crowd of several hundred people had gathered outside, spilling well into the street in front of the enclosed 4-H Building, and finally had to be pushed back and to the sides so that horse trailers could pass by. Fortunately there were only a few this time.

At 9:00 AM sharp the doors were thrown open. There were few firearms being taken into the building, and they were without exception sporting or antique arms. There was not a semi-automatic or so-called assault rifle amongst them; very unusual, a fact the off-duty deputies in their little side room inspection station noted without comment.

The cashier was taking money as fast as she could but could not keep up. The deputy that stamped hands faired somewhat better, hitting them with the rubber stamp as quickly as they handed across the $7.00 admission fee. After 50 or so had passed through a well-dressed gentleman wearing a sports coat with an exclusive golf and country club medallion emblazoned on the breast pocket, stepped up to the table. "It seems we have a bit of a traffic jam here. Maybe I can help." Reaching into his breast pocket he pulled out a wad of bills. Counting off 7 $100 bills he handed them across.

The cashier looked at him in astonishment. "Umm, what am I supposed to do with these? I don't have time to make change for you."

The businessman smiled and said, "I don't expect you too. Just have the officer here stamp the next 100 hands that come through as quickly as he can and let your customers in. I'm paying for them. Otherwise it'll be noon before you get through that crowd outside."

Shaking her head her head in disbelief she turned to the deputy. "Go ahead and do it Greg. I'll count for you."

"Ho-kay. Mister, I don't know who you are but you may have just avoided a riot out there if you're right about the number standing behind you." Raising his voice to address the crowd gathered behind the table he spoke. "Listen up! The next 100 people have had their admission fees paid. Stay in line and hold your hand out as you come by me. As soon as I stamp your hand disperse inside so there is room for those following. Pass it back!"

Then he began to stamp hands as quickly as possible. It took all of 5 minutes to stamp the next 100 hands. The line slowed perceptibly as the next people had to dig into wallets for their money. Then one man passed over a $50 and a $20 bill and said "Here's mine and hit the next 9 guys too."

Several people back one man turned to another and said, "You have a single? All I have are twenties." "Yeah, sure. I got ya. Here's fifteen. Let's speed this up again."

Behind them more saw what was going on and a hat was quickly produced. It quickly filled with $10 and $20 bills and a few $50's and even another $100 bill was added. Once it reached the sidewalk - well short of the end of the crowd that snaked past the end of the building the last man to add to the pot called out "Let's see what we've got and pass it up. Next group can add to it."

3 men grabbed handfuls of cash and began sorting. 5's to one man, 10's to another. A woman stepped up and said "Here, I'll count 20's for you. Her hands quickly filled also. In a minute's time they had the money sorted into denominations and another 30 seconds had it all counted. "Eight hundred and thirty-five dollars! We need another five bux to make it even!" A bill was quickly produced and added and the hat passed up with the tally. "Tell them $840." "$840, pass it up front." "Joe, pass it along. $840." In another minute it had made its way to the cashier who just blew her hair out of her face.

"I'm not even going to count it. That would be, ummmm…"

"120 more," Greg offered, beginning to stamp more hands and wave them through. In 27 minutes over 780 people had passed into the show, by far the largest turnout ever for a Saturday morning. Hats were passed several times more simply to speed up the admission process. People were eager to get inside. The flood finally slowed to a steady trickle. The few dealers that offered non-firearms related items were ignored. A number of the further out of state dealers that normally would have been present were conspicuous by their absence. Not that it mattered. Entrepreneurship ruled the day.

A few dealers sought to take advantage of what they thought was a seller's market. They quickly found themselves disabused when those that hadn't raised their prices were mobbed with buyers snatching up everything in sight as quickly as yellow forms could be filled out. The Permit to Purchase Iowa required for handgun purchases also permitted buyers to circumvent the NCIS check. An amazing number of buyers had these in hand, partially due to the lessons learned over the years, partially in planned response to recent events. They were fortunate because calls to NCIS went unanswered.

Finally one dealer whose specialty was bull barrel and custom accuracy rifles went up to the announcer's stand and calmly asked for the microphone. The announcer started to balk because dealers did not take the mic themselves but passed messages for announcement. The look in the dealer's eyes told him that perhaps this time he'd best make an exception to the rules.



Taking the mic and clearing his throat once, then tapping on the mic to make sure it was live, he put his hand over it, leaned across the table to spoke to the announcer in a low tone. ""Barry, we've known each other for a long and we both know each other as straight shooters. Times are changing and we ain't a getting any younger. Just you set back and let me handle this and make sure they ain't no technical difficulties if you know what I mean."

Then straightening up once more he cleared his throat again. "May I have your attention please. May I have your attention? Come on folks, quiet down now." Gradually the din of hundreds of voices negotiating deals and asking questions died down.

"Thank you. For those of you that don't know me personal my name is Fred Hawkins. I've been a gun dealer for 29 years and I ain't missed a Fairgrounds show the last 14 years. I ain't but missed a couple of others between the Soccer Club and Adventureland shows neither. Fact is that's all I do any more, is shows. Those what have done business with me know I deal square and follow the rules to the letter." He paused for a moment to take a deep breath, then continued. "Today I want to announce my retirement."
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter IV - Part II

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

It was barely 7:00 AM yet the Amish were already gathered outside of the general store. A hay wagon was carrying tools, timbers, planks, boards and boxes of square nails. There were buckets of paint, pulleys and tackle. Shovels and rakes were being tied together and the entire lot secured with ropes tossed across the top. A large pile of dry hay and 4 sacks of feed oats were at the far end against the rear rack.

Buggies filled the drive, their horses standing patiently as always. Their owners milled about; a few children played tag in the side yard around the elm tree. The air was almost festive, like a holiday had been called from the rigors of farm work. But the Order knew few holidays. Today was Tuesday, an ordinary workday.

Andrea scarce had time to marvel at it when she was approached by a matronly woman she recognized from the previous evening as the one who had spoken up.

"We are ready to leave when you are. I believe you can carry 4 more in your car, yes?"

"Yes, I think so if we re-arrange a few things. Tell me, why are there so many people here already," Andrea asked.

"Do you not know?" The woman appeared genuinely puzzled.

"No, I am afraid I don't quite understand. I mean, the wagon and tools and lumber, yes. But all the people, the children too. Why are they here?"

"Ach! You have not been told yet. No matter. One of our number has spoken to our Brethren in Pennsylvania already this morning. We may use telephones when it is an emergency, but we may not have them in our houses you understand. But they have good neighbors and we do as well." The woman spoke with her head tilted to one side, a gesture of kindness as she explained to the English lady. A small smile of patient understanding was on her face.

"We have learned from our eastern Brethren that things are not good there. There is much fighting and they fear that soon they may face danger themselves. As you know we are forbidden to fight, even to defend ourselves. Not all are like this, but the Old Order is very strict is this matter. It is part of our Ordnung."

Andrea digested what she had been told thus far. "I see. But how does that explain all the people gathered here? Did they come to hear the news from out east?"

The woman sighed a deep breath, nodding her head as she did. "My yes, the news is not good. We have relatives in the east, though the last of us moved here over 45 years ago. I myself was but a young wife when I joined the Community here. Land was scarce in the east and my husband, Karl, decided to move us here to join other cousins who had moved before. But we have strong ties and we write letters often."

Andrea waited patiently for her to continue, which she did after a moment's wistfulness. "We are all here because this war, this terrible fighting, affects all of us. Not only you English but the Community as well. You are doing a good thing and we will help. All of us. We have a saying: A load heavy to one is borne lightly by many. You must get your hospital completed very soon. We will help, all of us. Even the children might help. It should be but a few days work and we are prepared to stay until it is done. Those of us who go ahead will prepare for the rest."

The effect of this revelation on Andrea was startling. "Oh my God in Heaven, are you serious? There must be 45 people here. This is amazing!"

The woman beamed a big smile at her. "Yes, you are right to praise the Father. It is He who guides us always. It is His work we do, just as you do also. It is our hope that many lives will be saved by these efforts."

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

The treasure hunt continued. Around, under and on top of the piles of used furniture, the odd surgical lamp, a hydraulic operating table, the inevitable step stools and bath assist rails and swivel office chairs the finds continued. Each and every box had to be gone through thoroughly. Often they contained mixed lots of whatever was considered surplus or expired or no longer the brand of choice. For once she was thankful of the chronic wastefulness of the American medical system, because it had proven a ready reserve for the battle to come, thanks to the efforts of one man and his charitable endeavors.

In the next, even larger room, where the cows would have milked once, was yet more. Owing to it's larger size and the wide door at the end where the cattle would have entered it held the bulk of the large furniture. A dozen hospital beds, mostly the heavier electric models of a couple decades past, stood on end against one wall. Here she quickly found a large oxygen "M" tank, and an "H" tank complete with reducer valve and a transfiller still attached for filling smaller bottles. Nearby were 5 steel "E" cylinders. A pair of wheeled caddies for same were tossed onto a pile of bedside cabinets. Between the two of them they carried the larger tanks outside then the smaller bottles as well. Once filled they would supply life-giving oxygen.

Returning they found 3 different portable oxygen regulators. One was missing the glass facepiece but otherwise appeared serviceable. More masks, cannulas and tubing, a small lot of tubing adapters, various types of nebulizer masks - all found their way in to a box and were set with the rest.

Another mercury column sphygmomanometer, this one a wheeled model on a stand sans tubing or cuff. It could be made to work. Perhaps the latex surgical tubing she had found previously was the right diameter. A large handful of instruments here, more orthopedic goods consisting of clavicle braces, knee braces and a 4-point cane. A walker joined the growing pile, 2 more sets of crutches - this time the better metal adjustable style.

They were working their way towards a large pile of electronic equipment. Amidst old computers and calculators and multi-line phones they found a lab centrifuge, a small incubator and a box of assorted lab ware including a Bunsen burner. They were duly consigned to the growing pile.

A pair of halogen exam lamps followed. A Mayo stand. How she was ever going to load all of this into her Blazer she had no idea but she couldn't bear the thought of not having these things. So she kept digging and finding and adding. Biohazard bags, sharps containers of every sort, a kick bucket and ring. Finally they reached the end - they had been through every box and set aside everything of possible use.

"Whew! That was work! Thank goodness that part is over. Now I just have to figure out how to fit all this in my Blazer." She wiped swear from her brow and noticed her hand came away streaked with dirt.

"Oh Andrea, we aren't done yet." David's face was somber as he looked at her. His tone bespoke of news she did not wish to hear, and yet…

She fixed him with a steady gaze, eyes lowered as if looking over a pair of glasses. "What do you mean we aren't done yet?"

His face brightened as if delivering the punch line to a joke. "Oh, didn't I tell you? I must have forgotten." His mouth dropped at the corners. "I have another building."

"I should have known better than to wish for too much," she groaned. "Okay, lead the way."

Dateline: State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, Iowa

Fred had their attention. At his announcement a few began to turn back to what they were doing but his next words stopped in the act of doing so. "Some of you have heard the rumors that the government is going to ban all future sales of firearms. Well, it's true. A long-time friend of mine works for the government; I ain't gonna say for who. But he got word to me that they are supposed to begin rounding up all the guns they can get their damn hands on starting first thing Monday morning with the dealers. All of us! And I don't think they're gonna be writing us no damn government checks for them neither!!!"

"I want you all to know I been ready for this day for a long time now. A LONG time! It don't come as no su'prise to me. So tell ya what I'm gonna do, and I defy ANYBODY to try 'n stop me. The rifles on my table are my personal property and I can do with them as I see fit. I aim to be sold out by 5:00 so's I can start my retirement. So they ever'one is $200 off the tag, and boys, most of you look like honest upright fellows. This sure is a relief, cuz I done run plumb out of them yellow papers and my cellphone's dead too. Just one thing: if you like rap, don't bother coming over cuz your money ain't no good. I guess that's all I got to say." He handed the mic back to the announcer and made his way towards his table in the back.



One of the private duty deputies at the front door started after Fred but got but 15 feet away when Barry suddenly yelled. "Hey! That guy just lit out the door with one of my pistols! Stop him damn you!"

The deputy stopped in his tracks, torn between the two directions. Then, deciding that Fred was going to be there a while he ran after the supposed thief. Seeing a man walking away in the parking lot a distance off he took after him. One down, 4 more to go.

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

They finally had the Blazer rearranged and everyone settled after a time. Straw brooms and mops were tied to her luggage rack. As they were ready to leave a long flatbed trailer pulled by a crew-cab pickup truck pulled into the drive. The men immediately gathered around it. This evidently was how they moved their wagons and such long distances. The wagon was driven up the plank ramp that the pickup driver pulled off the back.. The horses were secured to the front after stake racks were set into brackets on the front and sides, extending several feet back. The wagon itself was chained down by the driver and firmly secured.

Crates of assorted goods were added underneath the wagon, piles of quilts and feather pillows tossed into the back of the truck and the extra seats in the cab as well as the back end filled with people. A passenger van was reported to be coming for the rest. Neighbors would tend to chores. It was a wonderful example of neighbor helping neighbor.

Andrea set out with 3 woman and one husband. The van would catch up later and the trailer would arrive last, taking 3 hours or more to make the 60-odd mile trip. The Amish were a very patient people and seemed not to mind the relative slowness their lifestyle dictated when traveling. While forbidden to operate motor vehicles themselves there were no proscriptions against being a passenger when it proved necessary.
Matters were moving very quickly now. The group back in Ottumwa would have been notified by now that the farm would work and additional arrangements on that end made. Until she went back to transport equipment she would have no direct contact with them except in case of emergency as agreed upon. Routine communications meanwhile were to be via a dead drop in St. Olaf to limit exposure to her contact there. A pair of backups would be arranged later.

The Amish had been briefed on the need for secrecy. Not that there was any chance of them exposing the purpose of the new occupancy. Their natural wariness of Outsiders precluded idle chatter and after all, their presence was explained by the simple fact they were there to repair buildings.

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

The other barn held David's most recent donations of medical goods. Much of it was fixed equipment from a hospital that had closed the previous year and which used medical equipment dealers had no interest in. There was a modest stack of boxes though to one side. Picking the topmost one she opened it to find more plastic bedpans, basins and water pitchers. Well, there were enough of those already.

The next was more valuable. Pre-packaged laceration trays, biopsy needles - which could be used to start intraosseous, or bone marrow, IV lines - screw clamps, autoclave pouches and other miscellany. She had only performed an intraosseous IV once, and then on a toddler in ER, but the technique was the same for adults. In certain situations it could prove necessary.





The task she had set for herself was daunting indeed but matters were looking up. Never had she ever thought she'd find the kind of support she was receiving. Perhaps things might work out after all?
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter IV - Part I

PATRIOT AID STATION IV - Beginning the Harvest

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

The meeting with the other members of the Amish community at Hazelton had gone well. They listened as the Elders spoke of the task that had been requested of the community, that of providing carpenters, and the purpose for the project.

Initially there was some misgiving as it was seen as perhaps becoming directly involved with the ongoing war. One man went so far as to offer the well known Biblical quotation which was part of the basis for the pacifistic beliefs: "Wenn es möglich ist, als viel als lieth in Ihnen, friedlich lebt mit allen Männern. Rächen Sie [ist] nicht sich, aber [ziemlich] werde Ort zu Zorn: für es, Rache meiner; ich zurückzahlen geben wird geschrieben, sagt Den Herrn." [If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, says the Lord.] Romans 12:18-19

He in turn was answered by the man next to him.

"Daher wenn ihr Feind Hunger, führt ihn zu; wenn er Durst, trinkt ihn gibt: für in so Machen, das Sie Kohlen des Feuers auf seinem Kopf häufen wird. Seien Sie nicht Überwindung des Übels, aber Überwindung Übel mit gut." [Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in
so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.] Romans 12:20-21

Then in English, he presumed for Andrea's sake: "Tis not fighting we are asked to do but to be of aid to those whose choice it is to defend others. I see no wrong in this. If one might be of aid by the repair of a barn than might this man pick up his hammer and his nails and be humble before God knowing that he did right in His name."

With this his wife separated herself from the other women and walking over to him she placed her hand in his, and facing the Elders stated: "It is my place to be besides mine husband. Wherewith he goeth also shall I be. There will be work of woman as well."

The mood of the small assemblage changed with this statement. Heads nodding all around the man who had questioned the appropriateness of seeming to get involved with the war effort spoke once again.

"Thus be it said and well. The journey though is not short. I will ask tomorrow of our friend in town if he would be so kindly as to once again carry wagons and teams that they be spared the distance."



Another joined him, saying, "There will be ladders and tools to move and timbers as well. It is well we are prepared to make quick work for no man shall be healed but that we complete our work."

There was no talk of payment for their services. If the Elders had decided to place the matter before those assembled this night than it had been already discussed. They knew the matter would have been approached with righteous caution.

More minor discussion ensued and in the end it was decided that Andrea would carry several of the Brethren to the farmstead in her Blazer in the morning. Having taken the precaution of obtaining a county map from her contact after visiting the place she was able to provide directions to those following later.

One of the couples kindly invited her to stay the night with them as they lived but a quarter mile down the road. They were middle aged and had no children living at home they explained so it would be no inconvenience. Besides it would save her the expense of the motel in Oelwein. She gladly if somewhat shyly accepted, overwhelmed at their generosity.

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

The shopping spree with David continued. More boxes of gloves were found in varying sizes and tossed over into the larger box by the door. David found a pile of isolation masks in one box of assorted items. They were quickly removed and added to another containing paper gowns, bouffant hats and shoe covers. A few worn scrubs likewise located were added.

They worked their way methodically through the room. Cases of outdated IV solutions and admixtures, tubings, more catheters, disposable needles, Vacutainer blood tubes, a Hemovac, suction tubing, pipettes, medicine cups. A few assorted instruments from some hospital storeroom, dating from whom knew when were considered and discarded as being of no use. Andrea could guess at what a few of them were. Judging from the rust they must have been in storage since the 60's. Not surprising the way some hospitals hung on to everything, working or not.

Catheterization trays - added for use with the Foleys. Hospital disinfectants that had been discarded in favor of a new supplier, frequent small lots of sutures, some stainless steel surgical wire, hamper bags but no ring frame to be found to support them. She'd figure something out so in they went. Sheets were tossed into a recently emptied box by the armload. A few worn thermal blankets, nearly 2 dozen disposable pillows - smallish but they would work.

A startling find: a box full of glassware and glass syringes, boxes of reusable needles, a stainless steel autoclave box to hold the syringes, a folding mercury column blood pressure unit, a Bowles stethoscope, a reflecting microscope, slides, cover slips, Petri dishes and more. She looked at David inquiringly.



"Where in the world did you find these," she asked incredulously.

"Oh those. Let's see now. Oh yeah, I remember. There was a doctor's office down in Fairfield that closed. Old guy, in his 80's I think. I got everything in there. There's an exam table in the next room and some other stuff. Pretty neat, huh?"

"Well, if I run short on the regular syringes I can always use these. I haven't seen any outside of a museum before this. I didn't know anyone used them."

"Oh, you had to meet this guy. His father had been a doctor before him and I think some of the stuff was his. He kept it around in case he ever needed it. Some of it has never been used."

"I see that," Andrea said. Some of these syringes are still in boxes. Look, this one is 60 cc. Talk about a monster. There's even an ear syringe in here."



David asked, "So what do you use an ear syringe for? I know it should be obvious but it isn't."

"When people have problems with an excess of wax buildup in their ears the doctor flushes it out with high pressure. It's much safer than actually trying to dig it out, though they make special cerumen scoops for especially tough cases. They still use the syringe afterwards though. Excess wax is bad enough - some people just naturally produce more- but it also catches dirt and stuff. In some cases it's enough to cause hearing loss."

"I always wondered about that. The doctors always said never stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. So I wondered what they did. Oh well, I just use a Q-Tip anyhow." He flashed her a quick grin.

Turning back to the search at hand another large box was secured and set by the doorway. Into it were tossed from the working pile bandages and dressings of every sort as they were found. Kerlix, Kling, ConForm gauze rollers, very few of which were sterile due to damaged packaging but that was hardly a concern as yet. A few packages of sterile 4x4" gauze pads in tub packs, enough perhaps for one application in each, a few tubes of non-sterile bulk sponges in 3x3" size. Probably tossed because they were considered non-standard. Slowly it began to fill but not nearly fast enough to satisfy her. Bandages and dressings were going to be needed by the case. It just was not going to be enough at this rate. Something else to add to her mental list for later.

A pair of wooden crutches. An adjustable metal cane. Plaster casting supplies. Webril went into the same box with the cast rollers as it was found. She needed stockinet as well. Perhaps as they dug further.

Knee immobilizer, arm sling, a couple of cervical collars, a Cox Splint, crutch tips, a worn hydrocollator pad, wrist braces, and Airstep ankle brace, used therapy putty, Thera-bands in various strengths, some exercise tubing and more miscellaneous small therapy items filled a plastic garbage bag. Tossed on to the growing pile outside.

A handful more syringes, sterile applicators, tongue depressors by the box of 1,000 - may as well. More Chux, a magnifying headset, a worn but serviceable BP cuff set with regular, large adult and thigh cuffs tossed in a small bag.

"Andrea, can you use this?" David was holding up a box a vaselined nasal packing strips, bottles of 50 yds in each.

"Oh yes, definitely. It can be used for packing open wounds that shouldn't be closed yet. I wish it were wider though but it might do in a pinch."

"There are some flat rubber tubes in here too, are they any good? Like tourniquets?"

Looking over she saw he was now holding up a mittful of latex drains. These were inserted into wounds before closure to provide a pathway for gathering fluid to exit. They were essential for proper wound care in some cases where the abdomen had been penetrated or perhaps a deep thigh wound.

"Oh please, David. And if you find any more toss them in as well." She stopped long enough to brush her hair out of her eyes and wipe her brow. It was now past noon and though the block structure was cooler than the outside the exertion and dust were taking their toll.

Dateline: Des Moines, Iowa

Unbeknownst to Andrea or any of her friends, quiet changes were being made in Des Moines. Persons loyal to President Boxer had quietly infiltrated the Governor's Office itself nearly 3 years before. The move was deliberate, because Balsack had been identified as someone who could be persuaded to toe the party line even if underneath the surface he disagreed in principle with some of what Hillary Boxer had in mind.

Iowa was considered a strategic goal because of its location between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The former constituted a significant natural barrier, the last one before the Rocky Mountains themselves. By controlling both sides of the river the locks and damns as well as bridges were also controllable. The bridges from Muscatine to Clinton, but in particular those upon which I-80 crossed the river at Davenport, were considered crucial for when the time came to make the great push westward after first consolidating matters in the eastern regions of the country. The next closest clusters of heavy bridges were located to the north in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, and to the south in the St. Louis area. Because of the relatively heavy units of the Minnesota Guard and Reserves - due in part to the greater natural resources the state possessed consisting of the iron reserves mined there as well, as having a larger population to draw from - it had been decided that it would be isolated for now and addressed later. Perhaps after the winter following the takeover had passed, during which time it could be cut off from the grain supplies of the southern states.

The key to Iowa lay in the Governor's Office. Through that office the Dept. of Public Safety, the National Guard - HQ'ed in nearby Johnston, the Air National Guard - HQ'ed in Des Moines itself, and the Disaster Services Division all reported directly. Control of these units could be safely left to the man who was himself directly influenced by the traitors within his own office.

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

Andrea awoke the following burning to the sound of a quiet knocking at her door. "Fraulien Vhitevater?" the hesitant voice of her hostess asked, Haf you avakened yet?"

Andrea stirred for a moment, failing to realize she was being addressed by the voice at the door. Then, blinking sleep from her eyes she noticed her surroundings and then it all came back to her. She was in an Amish farm home, known to her hosts as Irene Whitewater. Today they were to begin moving to and working on what was going to become her "field hospital" for the resistance movement.

"Yes, I am awake. I'll be right down as soon as I wash up a bit."

"Ist gute. Ve shall zee you in the kitchen. Breakfast is ready nearly." Andrea could here the soft sound of Frau Jacobi's shoes as she walked down the wooden floored hallway and thence down the narrow stairs.

Tossing back the piecework comforter that covered her she arose and dressed swiftly, pausing only to pour water in the washbasin from the plain metal pitcher on the dresser. Quickly freshening herself and using a brush also provided she took the nighttime tangles out her hair, wet a finger and washed away the film on her teeth. There was no mirror in the room so she had to guess at her looks, then decided it didn't matter to these people.

Exiting the bedroom after straightening the bed up - something her mother had always taught her to do - she proceeded downstairs to the kitchen area. Herr Jacobi was seated at the table already, awaiting Frau Jacobi who was busy dishing up the food into red graniteware serving dishes.

As she stood in the doorway, uncertain as to sit or assist her hostess Herr Jacobi turned in his seat to face her to the side. "Guten morgan, Fraulein. I trust thee slept well and are prepared to join us in a simple meal."

"Guten morgan, Herr Jacobi, gnaudige Frau. Danke, Ich sehr gute geslaffen." Then switching back into English, "That smells wonderful. I hope you did not go to any trouble on my part."

Frau Jacobi turned with a platter in one hand and a bowl in the other. "Nein, nein. It is what we always have, no more. Then, setting the food on the table she motioned to an empty chair at the near end. "Bitte, sit. We would be pleased if thou wouldst join us in prayer before our meal."

Inclining her head in a courteous gesture of acceptance Andrea sat herself. "I would be truly delighted."

As soon as Frau Jacobi settled herself they both clasped their hands together in prayer and bowed their heads, Andrea doing likewise. Herr Jacobi led the prayer. "Our Vater in Heaven, ve ask Thy blessings upon this humble house and all who dwell vithin this day. Ve ask Thy blessings upon bountiful fruits of thy earth uv vich ve are about to partake of.
Und ve ask Thy blessing upon dis young voman und the mission vich she seeks to fulfill for Thy greater glory. In die name of Thy Son, Jesus, ve ask dis. Amen."

"Thank you, Herr Jacobi. I truly appreciate your prayers," Andrea said. He simply nodded and then reached for the platter, which held bacon and sausage both. Elsewhere on the table were bowls of fried potatoes and gravy, a basket of homemade bread, real butter and jars of jam. She could feel her stomach rumbling at the sight of such a splendid breakfast.

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

After a quick break for iced tea and to look over what they has already tossed outside Andrea and her benefactor dug in once more. More assorted boxes stood behind a wall of miscellany hospital furniture. 3 old fashioned crank beds were piled one atop another. Tempting but she'd never carry them in her Blazer and she had no idea what the layout of the place Scott had found was like. Perhaps they could be returned for later if need be, but meanwhile Raymond had assured her that they had metal-framed military surplus cots aplenty. They even had clamp on IV poles for them, all in olive drab of course.

Shoving aside the stack of beds enough to create a narrow pathway Andrea squeezed through and grabbed the nearest box off the stack. ABD pads, half a box, perhaps 50 in all. Calling out to David she passed it through the narrow passage for him to take and thence carry outside. They could compact things later.

Next was a sack of green surgical linens and towels. Judged useful they were passed back as well, a few spilling out of a tear in the underside of the sack. Hidden underneath the sack was a blue plastic wheeled bin labeled C-Section. Standing 3-1/2 feet tall it had a red lid and would hold approximately 35 gals of water. Removing the lid she found OB pads, a couple of disposable resuscitator bags in their wrappers, bunches of disposable ice bags and some chemical perineal heat pads. Digging further there were boxes of absorbable sutures, a metal kidney pan and 3 prepackaged delivery kits. The latter were especially welcome as it meant sterile drapes and wraps, important for setting up a sterile field to guard against infection introduced during procedures. They could be made to fit as needed. The bin proved too clumsy to move filled as it was so larger items were tossed over the David until it was light enough to manhandle over.

Underneath the bin was a badly deteriorated cardboard box that looked as though it would crumble at a touch. Lifting a once-sealed flap on top she found glass IV bottles. Removing one revealed that it was empty. She was disappointed until she read the faded label: STERILE EVACUATED CONTAINER.
Blood collection bottles! They could be used to collect blood for transfusion! Carefully removing the rest from the crumpled carton she passed them across to David, cautioning him that they were very important and not to drop any. He quickly found another box, which he dumped the contents of and then carefully packed the bottles inside using whatever soft goods were close to hand. There were a dozen bottles in all.

Turning to a dangerously leaning stack next to the workspace she had created there was found smaller boxes of various goods. Oral swabs. A partial roll of latex surgical tubing. A box of budget elastic bandages in various sizes. Also passed over with the others. Stainless steel instrument trays. A dozen passed over, the rest set aside. More syringes, loose sutures, some IV tubing, all tossed together. More expired IV solutions, this time with Potassium Chloride already pre-mixed in. 7 bags of peritoneal dialysis solution. Again, potentially useful. Tegaderm dressings. More gauze rollers, bulk gauze pads, 10x12 ABD dressings, a few pre-packaged procedure kits. These in particular caught her attention and she pulled one up into the light coming through the window so as to examine it better.

Maxum Circumcision Tray

CONTENTS

1 Tray
1 Mosquito Forceps, Curved
1 Mosquito Forceps, Straight
1 Adson Forceps
1 Scissors
1 Probe w/Eye
6 Gauze Sponges
1 Safety Pin
1 Gauze Sponge w/Lubricating Jelly
1 Scalpel
2 Towels
1 Fenestrated Drape
1 CST Wrap

These were an important find. The outer package was dirty but appeared intact, which meant the instruments inside were still sterile. Thus they were ready for use as was. They were standard instruments, useful for almost anything. And if she recalled correctly Maxum used a better grade of disposable instruments in their kits. They would withstand repeated reuse. Gathering all of them up she passed them back then turned her attention to the next case.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter IV - Part II

Dateline: State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, Iowa

It had been only a few weeks since the changeover in the White House. The regular gun show scheduled for the State Fairgrounds was due this weekend. The opening was set for Saturday at 9:00 AM as usual but a crowd had gathered well before that. The State Fair Patrol had requested additional assistance from DMPD to handle the traffic flow, as a horse show was also scheduled and the outdoor area was across from the 4-H Building where the gun show was held. A crowd of several hundred people had gathered outside, spilling well into the street in front of the enclosed 4-H Building, and finally had to be pushed back and to the sides so that horse trailers could pass by. Fortunately there were only a few this time.

At 9:00 AM sharp the doors were thrown open. There were few firearms being taken into the building, and they were without exception sporting or antique arms. There was not a semi-automatic or so-called assault rifle amongst them; very unusual, a fact the off-duty deputies in their little side room inspection station noted without comment.

The cashier was taking money as fast as she could but could not keep up. The deputy that stamped hands faired somewhat better, hitting them with the rubber stamp as quickly as they handed across the $7.00 admission fee. After 50 or so had passed through a well-dressed gentleman wearing a sports coat with an exclusive golf and country club medallion emblazoned on the breast pocket, stepped up to the table. "It seems we have a bit of a traffic jam here. Maybe I can help." Reaching into his breast pocket he pulled out a wad of bills. Counting off 7 $100 bills he handed them across.

The cashier looked at him in astonishment. "Umm, what am I supposed to do with these? I don't have time to make change for you."

The businessman smiled and said, "I don't expect you too. Just have the officer here stamp the next 100 hands that come through as quickly as he can and let your customers in. I'm paying for them. Otherwise it'll be noon before you get through that crowd outside."

Shaking her head her head in disbelief she turned to the deputy. "Go ahead and do it Greg. I'll count for you."

"Ho-kay. Mister, I don't know who you are but you may have just avoided a riot out there if you're right about the number standing behind you." Raising his voice to address the crowd gathered behind the table he spoke. "Listen up! The next 100 people have had their admission fees paid. Stay in line and hold your hand out as you come by me. As soon as I stamp your hand disperse inside so there is room for those following. Pass it back!"

Then he began to stamp hands as quickly as possible. It took all of 5 minutes to stamp the next 100 hands. The line slowed perceptibly as the next people had to dig into wallets for their money. Then one man passed over a $50 and a $20 bill and said "Here's mine and hit the next 9 guys too."

Several people back one man turned to another and said, "You have a single? All I have are twenties." "Yeah, sure. I got ya. Here's fifteen. Let's speed this up again."

Behind them more saw what was going on and a hat was quickly produced. It quickly filled with $10 and $20 bills and a few $50's and even another $100 bill was added. Once it reached the sidewalk - well short of the end of the crowd that snaked past the end of the building the last man to add to the pot called out "Let's see what we've got and pass it up. Next group can add to it."

3 men grabbed handfuls of cash and began sorting. 5's to one man, 10's to another. A woman stepped up and said "Here, I'll count 20's for you. Her hands quickly filled also. In a minute's time they had the money sorted into denominations and another 30 seconds had it all counted. "Eight hundred and thirty-five dollars! We need another five bux to make it even!" A bill was quickly produced and added and the hat passed up with the tally. "Tell them $840." "$840, pass it up front." "Joe, pass it along. $840." In another minute it had made its way to the cashier who just blew her hair out of her face.

"I'm not even going to count it. That would be, ummmm…"

"120 more," Greg offered, beginning to stamp more hands and wave them through. In 27 minutes over 780 people had passed into the show, by far the largest turnout ever for a Saturday morning. Hats were passed several times more simply to speed up the admission process. People were eager to get inside. The flood finally slowed to a steady trickle. The few dealers that offered non-firearms related items were ignored. A number of the further out of state dealers that normally would have been present were conspicuous by their absence. Not that it mattered. Entrepreneurship ruled the day.

A few dealers sought to take advantage of what they thought was a seller's market. They quickly found themselves disabused when those that hadn't raised their prices were mobbed with buyers snatching up everything in sight as quickly as yellow forms could be filled out. The Permit to Purchase Iowa required for handgun purchases also permitted buyers to circumvent the NCIS check. An amazing number of buyers had these in hand, partially due to the lessons learned over the years, partially in planned response to recent events. They were fortunate because calls to NCIS went unanswered.

Finally one dealer whose specialty was bull barrel and custom accuracy rifles went up to the announcer's stand and calmly asked for the microphone. The announcer started to balk because dealers did not take the mic themselves but passed messages for announcement. The look in the dealer's eyes told him that perhaps this time he'd best make an exception to the rules.



Taking the mic and clearing his throat once, then tapping on the mic to make sure it was live, he put his hand over it, leaned across the table to spoke to the announcer in a low tone. ""Barry, we've known each other for a long and we both know each other as straight shooters. Times are changing and we ain't a getting any younger. Just you set back and let me handle this and make sure they ain't no technical difficulties if you know what I mean."

Then straightening up once more he cleared his throat again. "May I have your attention please. May I have your attention? Come on folks, quiet down now." Gradually the din of hundreds of voices negotiating deals and asking questions died down.

"Thank you. For those of you that don't know me personal my name is Fred Hawkins. I've been a gun dealer for 29 years and I ain't missed a Fairgrounds show the last 14 years. I ain't but missed a couple of others between the Soccer Club and Adventureland shows neither. Fact is that's all I do any more, is shows. Those what have done business with me know I deal square and follow the rules to the letter." He paused for a moment to take a deep breath, then continued. "Today I want to announce my retirement."

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

It was barely 7:00 AM yet the Amish were already gathered outside of the general store. A hay wagon was carrying tools, timbers, planks, boards and boxes of square nails. There were buckets of paint, pulleys and tackle. Shovels and rakes were being tied together and the entire lot secured with ropes tossed across the top. A large pile of dry hay and 4 sacks of feed oats were at the far end against the rear rack.

Buggies filled the drive, their horses standing patiently as always. Their owners milled about; a few children played tag in the side yard around the elm tree. The air was almost festive, like a holiday had been called from the rigors of farm work. But the Order knew few holidays. Today was Tuesday, an ordinary workday.

Andrea scarce had time to marvel at it when she was approached by a matronly woman she recognized from the previous evening as the one who had spoken up.

"We are ready to leave when you are. I believe you can carry 4 more in your car, yes?"

"Yes, I think so if we re-arrange a few things. Tell me, why are there so many people here already," Andrea asked.

"Do you not know?" The woman appeared genuinely puzzled.

"No, I am afraid I don't quite understand. I mean, the wagon and tools and lumber, yes. But all the people, the children too. Why are they here?"

"Ach! You have not been told yet. No matter. One of our number has spoken to our Brethren in Pennsylvania already this morning. We may use telephones when it is an emergency, but we may not have them in our houses you understand. But they have good neighbors and we do as well." The woman spoke with her head tilted to one side, a gesture of kindness as she explained to the English lady. A small smile of patient understanding was on her face.

"We have learned from our eastern Brethren that things are not good there. There is much fighting and they fear that soon they may face danger themselves. As you know we are forbidden to fight, even to defend ourselves. Not all are like this, but the Old Order is very strict is this matter. It is part of our Ordnung."

Andrea digested what she had been told thus far. "I see. But how does that explain all the people gathered here? Did they come to hear the news from out east?"

The woman sighed a deep breath, nodding her head as she did. "My yes, the news is not good. We have relatives in the east, though the last of us moved here over 45 years ago. I myself was but a young wife when I joined the Community here. Land was scarce in the east and my husband, Karl, decided to move us here to join other cousins who had moved before. But we have strong ties and we write letters often."

Andrea waited patiently for her to continue, which she did after a moment's wistfulness. "We are all here because this war, this terrible fighting, affects all of us. Not only you English but the Community as well. You are doing a good thing and we will help. All of us. We have a saying: A load heavy to one is borne lightly by many. You must get your hospital completed very soon. We will help, all of us. Even the children might help. It should be but a few days work and we are prepared to stay until it is done. Those of us who go ahead will prepare for the rest."

The effect of this revelation on Andrea was startling. "Oh my God in Heaven, are you serious? There must be 45 people here. This is amazing!"

The woman beamed a big smile at her. "Yes, you are right to praise the Father. It is He who guides us always. It is His work we do, just as you do also. It is our hope that many lives will be saved by these efforts."

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

The treasure hunt continued. Around, under and on top of the piles of used furniture, the odd surgical lamp, a hydraulic operating table, the inevitable step stools and bath assist rails and swivel office chairs the finds continued. Each and every box had to be gone through thoroughly. Often they contained mixed lots of whatever was considered surplus or expired or no longer the brand of choice. For once she was thankful of the chronic wastefulness of the American medical system, because it had proven a ready reserve for the battle to come, thanks to the efforts of one man and his charitable endeavors.

In the next, even larger room, where the cows would have milked once, was yet more. Owing to it's larger size and the wide door at the end where the cattle would have entered it held the bulk of the large furniture. A dozen hospital beds, mostly the heavier electric models of a couple decades past, stood on end against one wall. Here she quickly found a large oxygen "M" tank, and an "H" tank complete with reducer valve and a transfiller still attached for filling smaller bottles. Nearby were 5 steel "E" cylinders. A pair of wheeled caddies for same were tossed onto a pile of bedside cabinets. Between the two of them they carried the larger tanks outside then the smaller bottles as well. Once filled they would supply life-giving oxygen.

Returning they found 3 different portable oxygen regulators. One was missing the glass facepiece but otherwise appeared serviceable. More masks, cannulas and tubing, a small lot of tubing adapters, various types of nebulizer masks - all found their way in to a box and were set with the rest.

Another mercury column sphygmomanometer, this one a wheeled model on a stand sans tubing or cuff. It could be made to work. Perhaps the latex surgical tubing she had found previously was the right diameter. A large handful of instruments here, more orthopedic goods consisting of clavicle braces, knee braces and a 4-point cane. A walker joined the growing pile, 2 more sets of crutches - this time the better metal adjustable style.

They were working their way towards a large pile of electronic equipment. Amidst old computers and calculators and multi-line phones they found a lab centrifuge, a small incubator and a box of assorted lab ware including a Bunsen burner. They were duly consigned to the growing pile.

A pair of halogen exam lamps followed. A Mayo stand. How she was ever going to load all of this into her Blazer she had no idea but she couldn't bear the thought of not having these things. So she kept digging and finding and adding. Biohazard bags, sharps containers of every sort, a kick bucket and ring. Finally they reached the end - they had been through every box and set aside everything of possible use.

"Whew! That was work! Thank goodness that part is over. Now I just have to figure out how to fit all this in my Blazer." She wiped swear from her brow and noticed her hand came away streaked with dirt.

"Oh Andrea, we aren't done yet." David's face was somber as he looked at her. His tone bespoke of news she did not wish to hear, and yet…

She fixed him with a steady gaze, eyes lowered as if looking over a pair of glasses. "What do you mean we aren't done yet?"

His face brightened as if delivering the punch line to a joke. "Oh, didn't I tell you? I must have forgotten." His mouth dropped at the corners. "I have another building."

"I should have known better than to wish for too much," she groaned. "Okay, lead the way."

Dateline: State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, Iowa

Fred had their attention. At his announcement a few began to turn back to what they were doing but his next words stopped in the act of doing so. "Some of you have heard the rumors that the government is going to ban all future sales of firearms. Well, it's true. A long-time friend of mine works for the government; I ain't gonna say for who. But he got word to me that they are supposed to begin rounding up all the guns they can get their damn hands on starting first thing Monday morning with the dealers. All of us! And I don't think they're gonna be writing us no damn government checks for them neither!!!"

"I want you all to know I been ready for this day for a long time now. A LONG time! It don't come as no su'prise to me. So tell ya what I'm gonna do, and I defy ANYBODY to try 'n stop me. The rifles on my table are my personal property and I can do with them as I see fit. I aim to be sold out by 5:00 so's I can start my retirement. So they ever'one is $200 off the tag, and boys, most of you look like honest upright fellows. This sure is a relief, cuz I done run plumb out of them yellow papers and my cellphone's dead too. Just one thing: if you like rap, don't bother coming over cuz your money ain't no good. I guess that's all I got to say." He handed the mic back to the announcer and made his way towards his table in the back.



One of the private duty deputies at the front door started after Fred but got but 15 feet away when Barry suddenly yelled. "Hey! That guy just lit out the door with one of my pistols! Stop him damn you!"

The deputy stopped in his tracks, torn between the two directions. Then, deciding that Fred was going to be there a while he ran after the supposed thief. Seeing a man walking away in the parking lot a distance off he took after him. One down, 4 more to go.

Dateline: Amish Community, Hazelton, Iowa

They finally had the Blazer rearranged and everyone settled after a time. Straw brooms and mops were tied to her luggage rack. As they were ready to leave a long flatbed trailer pulled by a crew-cab pickup truck pulled into the drive. The men immediately gathered around it. This evidently was how they moved their wagons and such long distances. The wagon was driven up the plank ramp that the pickup driver pulled off the back.. The horses were secured to the front after stake racks were set into brackets on the front and sides, extending several feet back. The wagon itself was chained down by the driver and firmly secured.

Crates of assorted goods were added underneath the wagon, piles of quilts and feather pillows tossed into the back of the truck and the extra seats in the cab as well as the back end filled with people. A passenger van was reported to be coming for the rest. Neighbors would tend to chores. It was a wonderful example of neighbor helping neighbor.

Andrea set out with 3 woman and one husband. The van would catch up later and the trailer would arrive last, taking 3 hours or more to make the 60-odd mile trip. The Amish were a very patient people and seemed not to mind the relative slowness their lifestyle dictated when traveling. While forbidden to operate motor vehicles themselves there were no proscriptions against being a passenger when it proved necessary.
Matters were moving very quickly now. The group back in Ottumwa would have been notified by now that the farm would work and additional arrangements on that end made. Until she went back to transport equipment she would have no direct contact with them except in case of emergency as agreed upon. Routine communications meanwhile were to be via a dead drop in St. Olaf to limit exposure to her contact there. A pair of backups would be arranged later.

The Amish had been briefed on the need for secrecy. Not that there was any chance of them exposing the purpose of the new occupancy. Their natural wariness of Outsiders precluded idle chatter and after all, their presence was explained by the simple fact they were there to repair buildings.

Dateline: What Cheer, Iowa

The other barn held David's most recent donations of medical goods. Much of it was fixed equipment from a hospital that had closed the previous year and which used medical equipment dealers had no interest in. There was a modest stack of boxes though to one side. Picking the topmost one she opened it to find more plastic bedpans, basins and water pitchers. Well, there were enough of those already.

The next was more valuable. Pre-packaged laceration trays, biopsy needles - which could be used to start intraosseous, or bone marrow, IV lines - screw clamps, autoclave pouches and other miscellany. She had only performed an intraosseous IV once, and then on a toddler in ER, but the technique was the same for adults. In certain situations it could prove necessary.





The task she had set for herself was daunting indeed but matters were looking up. Never had she ever thought she'd find the kind of support she was receiving. Perhaps things might work out after all?
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter V - Part I

PATRIOT AID STATION V

Dateline: USA

There was now a noticeable movement of people westward through the Ohio Valley, families and others attempting to flee the fighting in the Virginias, the Carolinas, Georgia. New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were likewise the scene of migrations from the cities, and the boarder crossing at Niagara Falls saw waits of hours as vehicle occupants were grilled as to their intentions. As many as 2 of 3 vehicles were pulled aside and thoroughly searched for firearms and other contraband. Though Canada had it's own
Patriot movement the eastern portions of the country evolved deeper and deeper towards the liberal philosophy thanks in large part to the national government in Ottawa.

Factories began to close as raw material flows were interrupted with increasing regularity, and more and more skilled workers with years of seniority began to tender notice, or quite frequently simply failed to show up for work. Occasionally news reports might carry stories of arrest for "banditry" or "rebel affiliations." The media, long in the pocket of the liberals, was increasingly friendly to the new government. Those papers, magazines and news stations that espoused the party line found themselves favored. Continued supplies of newsprint, inks and access to press releases gave them an edge over more conservative competitors. While circulation in the cities and suburbs remained high there was a flood of cancellations from rural and smaller communities. The lines were being drawn.

Dateline: Iowa State Fairgrounds

In an amazing show of support the crowd gathered around Fred's tables, filling the aisle on either side and even the aisle in back of his tables so that access from that direction was limited. It took all of 10 minutes to sell every one of 29 rifles. No trades were offered, no haggling over prices, save in 2 cases Fred dropped the price $500 each on the two most expensive pieces which were tagged at $2,350 and $2,600 respectively. Both went to shooters who had been previous customers and whose capabilities he knew
well. If he'd been asked every person at his table was a total stranger as far as he could recall.

Throughout the rest of the auditorium quiet deals were being made. One dealer with a large inventory of surplus military rifles - Mausers, Mosin-Nagants, Arisakas, Schidt-Rubins and others - insisted on complete compliance with all the rules of the GCA. He made 3 sales that day, 2 AK's and a .22 bolt action rifle, and 23 pairs of BDU's. He was studiously ignored by most buyers. His normal sales volume was down over 80% of normal on a day when everything that wasn't nailed down was going out the door.

Other dealers caught on as well. One elderly fellow literally gave away 3 antique lever action rifles that would have commanded a collectible price. One recipient, a young man barely of legal age, handed him $40 cash - all he had - and took the sole box of .32 rimfire on the table. 50 cartridges he intended to put to good use with his newly acquired firearm.

Dateline: Future Site of Battalion Aid Midwest

The first of the strange convoy reached the hospital-to-be. The trip was uneventful save for the fact that Andrea was dying for a smoke, having been able to have but one all day in deference to her fellow travelers and that before meeting the others at the general store. The conversation was polite, her passengers inquiring about what she knew of the fighting going on in other parts of the country. At first she was hesitant to speak freely, afraid to offend the ladies. But as their questions persisted she bespoke more and more of the limitations to freedom that had been enacted, the travel restrictions to the east, her hopes to provide safe haven and restful refuge for the healing of the wounded. The ladies listened solemnly to every word, the sole husband nodding at points but making no attempt to converse himself.

Upon pulling into the farmyard drive she parked to one side, leaving plenty of room for the trailer to follow in a couple of hours. Her passengers quickly disembarked, the women heading straight for the house and the man stopping to survey the layout.

"Tis a good lay to the yard. The work should go well," he finally offered. "This is the barn you wish repaired, the roof needing the patching?" She nodded. "Yes, it has a number of holes and I will need it for storage and perhaps a dormitory as well."

He nodded in understanding, then, "I best be about it then. There seems much to do and time grows short." With that he ambled off towards the barn to inspect the place and decide which to address first.

Andrea turned towards the house. Upon entering she found that the women had performed their own survey of the place. One of the women, whom she came to know was named Katerine, seemed to be directing the others.

"Rebecca, you start mit die upstairs. Yest trow ever'thing out der vindow. Die kinder can pick up the big pieces vhen dey get here later. Anna, you help her. Ve start at zee top and vork our vay down. I vill help die Fraulein get zee mops und tings."

Turning to face Andrea then, she smiled. "Ist not zo bad dis place. Ve haf it fixed in no time. Soon you vill have zee sick people here and make dem better, ja?"

"Yes, I think we had better. I'm almost afraid to listen to the news today. This war seems so pointless! I don't understand how anyone could turn their back on their own country like they have. Thank God we have men and women who know the difference between right and wrong, and thank God also for good people like you."

"Ve do God's vork only, Fraulein. In a vay you are our neighbor and ve help you yust as ve help each ot'er. Ve cannot take part in zee var, of course, for is forbidden. But yet are ve kommanded to be of help zu our neighbors. Und dat ist vhat ve are doing here. Ve take no sides, even though ve realize you build dese place for the American patriots. No matter, day are in need of care and you give to them, ja?"

"Ja, I give to them." Andrea had a face-splitting smile on her face as she said this, and it was returned by Katerine. These people were not so difficult to understand once you looked at things from their point of view. They were pacifistic to be sure but they were also realists. They placed their trust in God and accepted whatever He sent their way.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

David's contributions had been a true Godsend. Materials she could not have acquired without too many questions, instruments and equipment that would have been beyond the means of even her patron group of Charlotte and Raymond and the others. Her Blazer was stacked to the ceiling and even the front passenger seat was full. She had comtenplated using the roofrack but decided that was too dangerous if she were seen by more than a passing farmer.

A storage unit on the edge of a Hedrick awaited her arrival. She'd been provided a key to the lock. It had been used for some time by the group under an assumed name.

There was supposed to be more equipment waiting for her eventual use, items gathered and stored by the group. Later, after she had established the definite location of her aid station she was promised discrete transfer of everything. It promised to be quite a haul; she hoped that the place Scott had found was up to the task of storage alone.

Listening to the radio as she drove she learned of reports of "dissident sabotage" of an important bridge in the D.C. area. Apparently a large formation of "rogue military units disloyal to the government" had attacked a "lightly protected group of civilian police" guarding the bridge from such attempts and despite a valiant effort were "massacred" to a man. Somehow she doubted that the picture the newscaster painted was accurate, but it did indicate that the fight was continuing. So hope remained.

Dateline: Iowa State Fairgrounds

By the point closing time for the show rolled around tables were all but barren. Most deals involved cash where firearms themselves were concerned. Very few yellow sheets were filled out. Several more dealers announced that they too were going out of business and liquidating their stock. Several local dealers made arrangements for after hour's sales at their shops of goods not brought to the show. It became a race against
time. The show was scheduled to open at 10:00 AM Sunday as well but latecomers would find very few desirable firearms - mostly antiques and goose guns, single shot .22's and .410's.

The other off duty deputies quickly conferred, decided that they could not prove per se what was going on, and decided to stick by the duties they had been hired for - they watched the sidedoors for attempts to sneak out with stolen arms, and made sure as best they could that there were no loaded weapons violations. The one who had started after Fred came back to report he had struck out trying to locate the supposed thief, then decided he was going to intervene in what he saw was a blatant firearms violation. His zealousness was quickly dissuaded when one of the promoters of the show stepped in and advised him services were no longer needed. If he failed to vacate the premises trespass charges would be filed. After all, he'd let a thief run right past him because he'd left his post. Or so he was told.

The promoter was no fool. He could see the handwriting on the wall and knew this likely would be the last show. He could always claim he'd been threatened by a gun-wielding patron when he tried to protest. More likely though he'd do well to disappear himself lest he be forced to testify against any of the dealers. He made a decent living promoting gun shows across the state and perhaps one day would again. But for now discretion was the better part of valor.

On his way out the now angered deputy stopped by the Fair Patrol Office and filed a complaint. He'd been known for his liberal attitudes and only worked the show for the extra money. He could always sign up for another gig.

One officer walked over to check out the complaint, asked the promoter what was going on and was reassured that matters were well under control, that he'd fired the officer for allowing a thief to make past him carrying a stolen handgun and that his complaint was the result of his disgruntlement. No problems there. The promoter had an exemplary history and there was no reason to question his statement. Granted the crowd seemed a bit excitable but considering what was going on in the east... Well, he wasn't about to
confront several hundred people toting guns. Better to go back and report what the show's promoter had to say about the matter. It wasn't like there'd been shots fired or a riot was in progress.

Dateline: Future Site of Battalion Aid Midwest

The vanload of Amish workers had arrived and was quickly put to work. The men and older boys to the barn, the women and younger boys and the girls to the house and surrounding area. There were literally not enough mops, brooms and scrub brushes to go around but other tasks were to hand.

A temporary outdoor kitchen was set up to the side of the house and preparations made for lunch to be served later, consisting of sandwiches and cucumber and tomato salad with freshly baked pies served afterwards.

The men quickly identified the areas of the barn requiring repair, beginning with the roof itself. Once the wagon arrived with the main tools work could begin in earnest but that would be another hour at least. Meanwhile they set to clearing the loft of old hay and clearing out the milking alley. There were no idle hands to be found; even the smallest children of grade school age were put to work.

Once the wagon arrived with the rest of the people as well as the tools all hands turned out to unload it. The team was rehitched and the wagon carefully backed off and placed next to the barn. The team, then unhitched, was taken into the trees and tied off where there was grass to browse.

Underneath the wagon had lain bundles of wood shakes. These were set aside while the existing roof was to be stripped bare in preparation for new sheathing and the replacement of a few trusses that had begun to rot.

A teen-age boy was assisted aloft, taking a rope with him, to the end of which an iron fixture was attached. This was clamped across the peak to secure the rope. Another rope and clamp were hauled up and likewise secured. To the entire affair was secured a stout wooden ladder, which would provide a platform for the men to stand on while the worked on the more steeply pitched slope of the upper roof. It being noon by this time the men were called to lunch and joined their families next to the house under the shade of a large oak. The atmosphere was that of a picnic, or as more apropos, an old-fashioned barn raising.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

After dropping off her load of medical supplies at the storage unit, it now being dark and too late to accomplish any more, Andrea headed for home. It was time to put into play her doomsday plan. And for that she would need a good night's rest.

Dateline: Future Site of Battalion Aid Midwest

By the end of the first day the barn roof had been stripped of it's previous cover. The younger members of the party were detailed to sift through the old wood shake shingles to salvage those that could be saved. Many were beyond redemption, particularly the lower rows, but nearly a third proved useful. Combined with those they had brought with them there were enough to cover the upper half of the roof once again. New sheathing was also a need. The team and wagon were sent into St. Olaf in the middle afternoon
In time to reach the local lumbar yard. It returned before dark loaded with chipboard decking and bundles of asbestos shingles. On a whim Andrea had added 3 rolls of heavy construction plastic to the list, and provided the driver with $500 cash to make the purchases with. Upon his return he presented the invoice showing that the total had been $542.19, the balance charged against his promise that payment would be made. Even though unknown to the local yard owners the Amish reputation for honesty was enough. If he said the hiring contractor would make good on the bill that was good enough. Needless to say Andrea wanted to make a good impression upon her new "home" community. God only knew how much she may have to depend upon their good will in times to come, even if they couldn't be told the real reason for her occupancy of the old farmstead.

Dateline: Iowa Army Ammunition Plant

In extreme southeastern Iowa an almost unknown drama was playing out. The stage for this production was the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Middleton. First activated in 1942 today the plant employed over 700 people and still produced artillery projectiles, such as the 105MM, 155MM and Hellfire warheads; TOW II, and M250 Chaparral warhead and 120mm mortar rounds.

The continued operation of the plant was essential to both sides. Since the mid-90's military stocks had been sorely depleted. Even the Bush administration had failed to raise inventories to the levels enjoyed prior to Desert Storm. In a sly move on their part the Clinton administration had closed down the Savanna Army Depot farther north in Illinois, rendering storage facilities to a premium, a convenient excuse for not stockpiling more. This meant, in addition to having several million square feet less in the way of secure
storage nationally that there were added transport expenses involved with increasing stockpiles, with an as yet limited budget.

The government sought to secure the Middleton Plant, and the patriots sought themselves to secure it from the government, many of them working within the plant itself. A convoy of mixed US troops loyal to the government and foreign nationals was reported to be en route along US 24 in Indiana, their presumed destination - the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant. Delays were hastily staged along the way, but would they be enough?

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

Andrea arose promptly at 5:00 AM after 6 hours of exhausted sleep. Today was Sunday and tomorrow she had an appointment about the remote farm Scott had found to serve as her aid station. There was much to do today and it was all integral to her plans, now that they had changed so drastically with the assistance of Charlotte's people.

Dressing quickly and packing an overnight bag with a few essentials that were easily explainable - clothes, oral care items, brush, make-up and a PC novel is case she were stopped and her belongings searched. Tossing the bag in her Blazer she mentally prepared for what promised to be a very long trip over the next 24 hours.

She hit the back roads as before, sticking to the better county roads and back highways just in case there were any restless troopers around. Hard to explain otherwise why she would be on the road so early. Later she could chance the better highways. Using the on-board compass she chose roads for direction of travel. The regular State highway map showed very few less traveled roads and she'd dared not bring her Gazetteer along for it might prove difficult to explain under the present circumstances just why she would need such a detailed map.

Shortly before 8:00 she had found her way to Madrid. Taking a break from the strenuous driving she drove by the church and saw that early mass was scheduled for 8:00 and decided to attend. Who knew when she might next have the chance? The church was named for St. Malachi. She took it as an ironic sign, as he was the saint credited with prophecies concerning the popes and the end of the line before the rise of the anti-christ. In one it seemed he might have arrived. She prayed ardently while in mass, for the success of her mission today, her future mission with the aid station, and the success of the patriot movement in freeing her beloved country once more. The news seemed darker every day even if she knew within her heart that it was heavily censored and the official government line was touted. God's divine help was desperately needed.

Upon leaving Madrid an hour later she was able to stick to paved county roads until she reached US 71. There she was forced to travel on it for a mile before she found another dirt road that eventually lead her back to the paved road network. This way she was able to avoid any heavily traveled roads until she reached town. It was noon when she arrived, and if she knew her folks they would be about to start Sunday brunch at the local café. All the better to surprise them.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter V- Part II

Dateline: Iowa State Fairgrounds

When 5:00 rolled around the crowd had all but dispersed from the 4-H Building. Several dealers were conspicuous by their remaining stock, being rather untouched. Others perhaps just as obvious as their tables were empty or nearly so, and in the case of the empty tables the dealers themselves were gone. No use staying for the Sunday opening. Ammo was gone to every last round for anything that was fireable. Even the more exotic stuff was bought up, the buyers intending to melt down lead and recast it, reform cases, use the propellants used in new cases or reloading others. There was not a single reloading press, can of powder, bullet puller, or tumbler to be found.

.50 caliber went quickly but only after every single round of .308, .223 and 7.62 x 39 had been snatched up. 12 ga in every form, every bag of shot. A few bags of tumbling medium remained here and there, very few knives over 3" in length. Even fantasy swords and art knives had been bought up by the more Walter Mitty-ish types. One dealer had sold out of every single used barrel he had, over 140 in all, and they went to just 2 customers. He'd never in all his years ever seen anything like it. Magazines for every arm imaginable even a Spanish Destroyer carbine. Web gear and camos were popular. Cannon fuse was gone in 20 minutes after the doors first opened. Primers: gone. Shotgun wads: likewise. A few reloading manuals here and there remained, but any book that described special warfare, any field manuals, even a number of Civil War-era books on strategies were all sold. It was if the entire state plus some had suddenly decided to study the art of war all at once.

Fred was long gone. When the JBT's showed up at his shop Monday they found it empty. His house likewise was stripped. Checking with local storage units they found where he'd rented a unit 2 weeks previously, and inside found furniture, household appliances and the usual bric-a-brac one might expect, but nothing of any value. It was if he'd died and the executor of the estate had put everything away for safekeeping until the auction. He'd been widowed several years before when his wife succumbed to complications of diabetes. His children were all living in other states and none of the neighbors could recall them having visited in several years. He had simply disappeared. The agents had a very uneasy feeling about this.

Dateline: Future Site of Battalion Aid Midwest

Wednesday morning Andrea awoke and crawled out of her sleeping bag. It had been a pleasant enough evening so she had simply camped out under the elm tree in the back of the house. The Plain Folk had camped out in the house, segregating themselves between the sexes with the boys sleeping with the fathers and the girls with the mothers. There were enough quilts and feather pillows to go around, but just barely. Andrea had offered to sleep in the Blazer and leave her bag for someone else but her offer was politely rejected. "We'll just be fine as we are," she was told.

The dawn air was crisp and the grass wet with dew, but already some of the women had begun to prepare a cold breakfast of homemade granola with powdered milk reconstituted with well water. There were also apples and oranges to go around for all. One of the children was tending to the horses, seeing that they were watered and a measure each of grain set out for them as well as fresh hay. Sounds from within the house indicated that the others were stirring as well though it was barely 6:00 AM.

It had been pointed out to her that perhaps a new outhouse might serve her well, since there was but the one bathroom. Even better, a pair of outhouses. They could be constructed readily enough from scrap materials from the barn, so she had simply agreed. It was just another detail she hadn't gotten around to thinking of yet. While she didn't anticipate near the number of users that the Amish represented yet she could see the wisdom of it as the old one was quickly approaching overuse from shear numbers even though it'd been years since last used and the compost was well settled by now.

By 7:00 the men were once again at work on the barn. The new trusses were ready to be hoisted into place. Here the horses were pressed into service after block and tackle was set up, making swift work of the job. The men sitting atop received the trusses and held them in place while they were swiftly fastened with large round pegs on the headers and using large square spikes atop. The holes had been bored the evening before while still light using hand braces and long bits. By 8:30 they were ready to apply the sheathing once again.

Beginning at the bottom they alternated new with old but usable until they reached the peak, where sheets of new were placed first on one side, then sawed clean using hand saws, then the other, the process repeated. Tin flashing was reapplied to the peak. Behind them the others already had begin the process of reshingling, 8 men eventually working each side until they met at the top by mid-afternoon. Lunch had been a quick cold affair once again as the sole campfire was being used to heat water for the inevitable scrubbing inside the house and the barn itself. The older children had been detailed to clean the old stalls and sweep out the milk processing room, the tanks, etc long ago removed and placed in the machine shed.

As the barn was completed a few men broke off from that detail and began work on the new privies. Working with pickaxe and spades they dug the new holes 4x5x6 feet deep. Before too long the other men had joined them and began work on the shelter houses themselves. They went together quickly, built by people who knew what they were doing by way of long practice. The doors were constructed wide for easy access and the "seats" had a divider between them for privacy. Strong arms tipped them upright and set them over their designated spots.

Inside the house the entire place had been scrubbed twice; floors scrubbed on hands and knees, cupboards cleaned, walls and ceilings alike. Where old plaster had fallen a teen-age boy had been delegated to make rudimentary patches. Once the rest of the house had been cleaned the walls were painted with a whitewash to create a clean surface. Tomorrow the remainder and some attention to detail that required carpentry, including the second handrail for the stairs. Already the women were talking about a summer kitchen on the back of the house.

Meanwhile Andrea had taken her leave and gone into St. Olaf to tend to the bill at the lumberyard. The proprietor, a Mr. Clarence Emmons, was a kindly fellow well into his late 50's. He'd inherited the yard from his father when he retired and ran a small service station next door as well. He was glad for the business as so many people tended to go to larger yards in Elkader or Strawberry Point. But his tastes in life were simple enough and he felt comfortable with his businesses. He greeted Andrea with a smile and said "So, you're the new lady out to the Renberg place. Nice to meet'cha." He held out a hand in greeting, which she took with a firm grasp.

Dateline: Schleswig, Iowa

Andrea stepped through the to a scene from her childhood years. Cronk's hadn't changed much in the past 30 years. They still served up a hearty Sunday buffet, still sold coffee for a quarter with free refills and still rated the moniker of greasy spoon. But it was a place that was not only familiar to her but also in a small way loved, as anyone has special places from their childhood that are fondly revered. For her Cronk's was one of those places.

Looking down the length of the restaurant she saw here folks just where she knew they would be, always within one table or another of the same place all these years. They looked little changed since she had last visited at Christmas but Dad looked a bit more drawn, like he used to look when he was worried about the store when customers were slow paying their bills. Maybe it was just the distance between them. It was as good a time as any to make her appearance since the waitress was just getting their drink orders.

Andrea wove her way through the small throng of diners making her way towards the table at which her parents sat. As she approached her father happened to look up and see her. "Andy! What a surprise! When did you get into town?"

I just got in Dad. I started early this morning and went to church on the way. I'm just here for a few hours I'm afraid. I'm taking some vacation and thought I'd stop by here on the way. Hello Mom, how are you?" she said, giving her mother a hug as she did.

"Oh dear, I'm just fine. My back's been bothering me a bit lately but nothing to worry about. How have you been, and why didn't you call?"

"I forgot to plug in my cellphone. Sorry. But I thought I might find you here." It wasn't really a lie, she had forgotten to plug it in, but then it was also charged. It was also turned off as a precaution against tracking her movements later.

"Are you going to have breakfast with us" her father asked. "We're having the brunch buffet if you care to join us."

"Sure, I'd love to. It's a long drive and I'm famished. Have to keep up my strength you know. Never know when the fighting might make it to this part of the country." Her father paled visibly at her mention of this.

"Well, let's not talk about that now. Head over to the line before Darwin there empties the bacon pan." He exited his chair and headed over to give Darwin a friendly pat on the back and tease him about his well-known penchant for eating heartily. He was a long time customer of her father's and they enjoyed ribbing each other.

Andrea helped her mother with her chair then the two of them joined their father in the buffet line. Grabbing plates they started with scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, grits with cheese melted in, and bacon. Contrary to her father's kidding Darwin hadn't managed to grab more than a dozen slices for himself. Added in were slices of ham, roast pork and sausage links, then across to the other side to add a pastry and fruit and grab a glass of orange juice before returning to the table.

Dateline: US 24, Near Monticello, Indiana

Near Monticello, Indiana a hasty ambush was staged where the terrain slightly favored the ambushers. There was a narrowing of Lake Shafer where US 24 crossed. Thoughts of blowing the bridge were abandoned when it was realized they had not enough explosives to do more than hole the deck and weaken a couple of supports. There was not time to rig a center support where enough critical damage might be done to impede the passage of the 6x6 trucks liberated from an eastern armory. The trucks were well used, still sporting the desert camo paint added for the Terrorist Conflicts of 2001 - 2005.

17 men and teen-age boys armed with rifles and bird bombs made a vain attempt to do damage to the invaders. The best they could do was cause a 30 minute delay, at a cost of 3 of their lives and 2 more wounded. The bird bombs did cause the accompanying Panhard armored cars accompanying to button up, limiting their vision. So restricted they could not adequately visualize their tormenters on the short bluffs to either side. They settled for firing harassing shots that wounded one when a tree limb fell on him. The others casualties were caused by grenades tossed once the troops had taken cover and recovered their wits. The fighting lasted but 8 minutes, with additional time spent once the ambushers pulled away investigating old tillage discs planted at odd intervals along the bridge decking. From a distance they had the appearance of humps indicating hastily planted mines. It proved to be an effective ruse - this time.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter VI - Part I

PATRIOT AID STATION Chapter VI

Tensions Grow

Dateline: USA

Just before dawn on Monday morning after the show the raids began. Federal agents, many newly promoted or hired, supplemented with local law enforcement officials, began serving no knock warrants on dealers and large scale collectors. First priority were collectors of Class III weapons. All across the country the raids went on. Far to often to their consternation they came up empty handed. More than a few collectors handed over copies of police reports detailing the breaking and entering of their collection rooms by professional thieves, every item missing.

Frustrated they next turned to dealers who were known to carry large inventories. A couple handed over their few remaining pieces but many reported nothing remaining in stock. Sales had gone through the roof with the news of the President's assassination and climbed even higher with reports of the fighting out east.

They managed to collect a few hunting arms from chain stores, the few which had not stopped selling them back during the midst of the Terrorist Conflicts of the early part of the century. Despite a semi-leniency with the Bush administration compared to the previous president political correctness still progressed when it came to guns.

After first failing to sweep the nation of resistance early in her administration Hillary Boxer held off calling for a national gun confiscation, trying to prevent the very sort of militia-style war that was wreaking havoc in the east. But now, she was no longer in the seat of power. America was under the thumb of a foreign ruler. Things were about to get interesting.

Dateline: St. Olaf

The Amish spent one more night at the old farm, it now being of course too late for the return trip. Their truck and trailer and passenger van were already scheduled to arrive at 8:30 the next morning. Andrea would return with them.

Her meeting with the proprietor of the lumberyard in St. Olaf had gone well. Very well indeed. They had engaged in small talk after she paid the remaining balance. He was mildly curious as to where it was she had moved, and there was no denying it. In fact admitting that she was the new occupant of the old farm was part of her cover. Just your average everyday farm-raised girl with a penchant for animals and tired of the cities. Did she expect many guests? Oh some of course, there were always family members, but she tended to be private and minded her own business. Did her family live nearby? Oh no. Well, at least not immediate family. There were some cousins in and about Dubuque. They were on her mother's side.

Gradually talk turned to the "civil war" as it was now being called by same with a wry sense of humor. Wry because if reports were true there was nothing civil about it, and fighting foreign troops on your native soil hardly amounted to the same as the reasons for the War Between the States. Gradually she learned that Mr. Emmons had been a Viet Nam veteran, that he had won 2 Purple hearts and a Good Conduct ribbon and had 2 grown children, both boys. One was in the Army and had been stationed at Fort Myers, VA. He paused for a moment after saying this. Understandably. There was no word from anyone stationed there in over 2 weeks now. There was nothing on the news but the worst was feared. His other son had left 2 weeks after the assassination. He had not heard from him since but had his suspicions. He had once mentioned going to meet some "friends" out east, people he knew from the internet.

"Ya know," he said, "What our men need - those out east doing the fighting - is a place to rest up. Won't be long I suspect before the fighting makes it to the Midwest. Man can't fight day in and day out, always on the run, without time off from it all."

Dateline: Future Site of Battalion Aid Midwest

The final cleaning up of the farmstead was done by the time the contracted transportation arrived the next morning. There no idle hands to be found. The high grass and weeds had been mowed by hand scythes, leaving a modest screen between the road and the farmyard proper. The evergreen trees along the road added further camouflage. The house, sitting back nearly 300 feet from the road, was effectively invisible unless one was to actually enter the drive. It was a very suitable location for the intended purpose.

Even the well had been addressed. Checked the previous day it was found to be full of accumulated debris. A teen-age boy was lowered via a rope and using using a bucket hauled by another one managed to clean out the majority of the detris. There was 4' of water accumulated, brackish as might be expected. Once the detris was cleaned out and a new sturdy wooden cover constructed and set in place the well was pumped almost dry. By the time they were done it was noticeably clearer. Checking back before they departed it was noted that fresh water was beginning to rise nicely. The pump produced much clearer water but it would still need to be flushed another time or two. One man tested it by drinking a swallow and pronounced it "fit for horses at least." Andrea made a mental note to see to the plumbing situation immediately upon her return. Clean filtered water was going to be a priority.

The trip back to Hazelton was uneventful, a reverse of the journey over 2 days previously. The mood was quietly joyous. A great deal had been accomplished and everyone felt good about it. The same passengers as before rode with her, and even the man - Jonathon - was conversant. He seemed more relaxed, as if Andrea had passed some sort of test where he was concerned.

Several people had gathered at the country store by the time they arrived. Lunch was being readied for the arrival of the trailer and the accompanying passengers. Once they arrived all would eat. Andrea approached Herr Klein about payment for the services rendered.

"We haf talked about this matter, the other Elders and I. It is our t'ought that this be a service to the community. We ask only that you pay for the lumber and nails we use." Andrea was taken aback momentarily as she had never expected anything so generous, especially in light of all the trouble they had gone through for her.

"I greatly appreciate what you have done for our country sir. I asked not for myself, as you know but for the benefit of others. They need a safe place to recuperate." She stood before him, humbled by the generosity of these people. They could easily have asked for a couple thousand dollars just for the labor involved. "I tell you what. I will make a credit with the store here for the benefit of your community. You may decide how to use it as you see fit. Of course this is over and above the cost of the materials used. I really would feel better if you would accept it. Things are getting tight and you will experience difficulties as well as the rest of the country. Please consider a return on your faith shown me."

Herr Klein nodded thoughtfully, scratching at his beard absent-mindedly as he did. "Tis settled then. The shopkeeper has a total for the materials. You may add to that as you see fit and may God bless you for your .kindness. For an Outsider you are a generous and understanding voman. Mai Gott setzen fort, weiter Sie mit Gesundheit und Anmut zu segnen." [May God continue to bless you with health and graces]

Dateline: USA

The Terrorist Conflicts of the early part of the new century had done a lot to steel American resolve. What Y2K had failed to do the terrorists - with their repeated bombings, bio-attacks, disruption of communications and the effects their actions had upon the American way of life - had. Despite the increased "Homeland Security" regulations that seemed to become more and more inconvenient, to the point of being downright oppressive in some instances, Americans were better prepared than at any time during their entire history.

Infrequent was the home that did not have a 3-week supply of antibiotics. Many had a full 60 days for every member of the household, and some as much as a year supply, after the NYC experience with a total of 9 different periods of anthrax and tularemia attacks. The overseas pharmacy companies had had a field day. The US Customs Office found it necessary to increase the number of inspectors 3-fold to even begin to maintain an alert watch over the growing demand for imported antibiotics, gas masks, bio-chem gear and more. By 2003 it became SOP to irradiate all foreign origin packages and assess a $5.00 "Customs Quarantine and Sanitation" fee on everything from personal mail to Christmas packages from Italy. The United States once again become Fortress America.

In the fall of 2002 the first high school began to offer bio-chem protection as an elective class. An otherwise sleepy town in western Nebraska by the name of Broken Bow garnered the honors, in large part due to the fact that the sociology and psychology teacher was a retired active duty Special Forces officer, since a teacher for 5 years. He offered to teach the class in an empty classroom during his otherwise free period, for no increase in his contract, and to provide the resource materials if the school would agree to the cost of copying as many manuals for students as desired them. By the end of the school year the 9-week course had seen over 180 students - many "shared" from other area districts - complete the program. By April 2003 Governor Jeb Bush of Florida had signed a bill making a similar program a mandatory elective offering in every school over 400 students from grades 8 and above. 3 more states followed that fall, and by the "05 school year California had made it a mandatory class for graduation. Along with Cultural Sensitivity and Basic Math, that is.

Through it all Andrea had watched, and listened, and learned all she could of infectious diseases and their use in warfare. She undertook voluntary training in Haz-Mat for health care workers, though she never offered that info to the hospital administrations. While she was prepared she didn't stick up like a square peg in a round hole. Liberalism still thrived in America.

Her visit to the family farm was with determined purpose. Her "hard gear" as she privately referred to it was stashed there, well hidden and protected. Her family knew nothing about it, not even her closest friends. It had been painstakingly gathered over the years, sometimes through commercial means, occasionally covertly by way of acquaintances she'd met on internet forums. While not illegal to own per se the M-80 Bio-Mask was a closely accounted for item within military circles and seldom seen on the open market. The deactivation of a unit at Fort Bragg had inadvertently caused the equipment to reach the surplus market after being first demiled'ed by removing the lithium-ion battery packs that powered the UV generator. Discrete inquiries elsewhere had brought her 300 hours worth of custom-made battery power for the 5 masks she was able to obtain at a cost of just under $400 each. The ancillary filters were easier to obtain on the open market, being an upgraded version of previous NBC models first produced by Draeger.

Dateline: Schleswig, Iowa

Andrea spent a pleasant Sunday morning breakfast with her parents and friends who stopped by to say hello. It was just as if there was no war on, no foreign troops attempting to overrun the country, aided by disloyal Americans and overbearing thugs passed off as peace officers. Despite the memories fairly fresh in their minds of the Terrorist Conflicts of only a few years ago no few citizens saw their best chances as supporting who they saw as the stronger side. Liberals, beaten down and back the past 10 years actually gleefully joined with the new "government."

The Earth Liberation Front - commonly known by the acronym of "ELF" literally took up arms, formed a brigade-level force from the Pacific-Northwest area and began to move SE towards a rendezvous with the invaders. Along the way they managed to "settle" a few scores with vocal opponents. A blown damn here washed away a prosperous ranch, a blown bridge isolated a strategic mineral mine. The local Grange office in Casper, Wyoming was burned to the ground after a midnight explosion.

They constituted a force to be reckoned with as they has long employed guerilla tactics in their campaigns against the "desoilers of the earth" as their literature referred to ranchers, loggers and miners. In doing so they effectively opened up a second front away from the main fighting. They were more the topic of discussion around the tables in the restaurant than the fighting out east. They were targeting agriculture after all, and they were coming this way.

"Andy, what's yer thought on these elves comin' this way?" Deitrich "Skeeter" Van Meter, a local cattle rancher of long standing, asked her from the next table.

"Dieter, you ought to know how I feel. They're common criminals, nothing more. If they think the Arabs are going to protect animals and trees they deserve whatever they get. And knowing you fellows around here as I do, should they come this way that won't be pretty." She ended her statement with a genuine smile of affection for the old family friend.

"Haw! Haw! Haw!" Skeeter's booming laugh filled the crowded room, temporarily drowning out the usual clatter of dishes and chatter between friends. Looking past her at her father he said, "Robert, you raised that 'un alright you did. She's a pistol." Her father just smiled by way of thanks for the compliment.

"Oh heavens, Dietrich, they won't come here to our little town. We're too out of the way and we don't have any research labs or logging operations" her mother, Belinda, laughed out a bit nervously, as if by saying so it might make it true.

"Well ma'am, we can always hope and pray but they ain't dumb them whackos, no ma'am. They keep to the main highways they're liable to find themselves hemmed in by a convoy of truckers looking to spoil their fun for good. They don't take too kindly to enviro-whackos always complaining about them pollutin' the air and asking for more roads. No, I 'spect they'll find their way through some small farming towns along the way and release pens full of hogs or blow up a cattle confinement barn or two, just to stay in practice along the way. They ain't right."

Breakfast and visiting over Andea followed her parents out to the family farm. The hardest part was going to come later, when she dug out her caches without having to explain matters to them. She also had a favor to ask of a life-long friend before she left the area.

After small chit-chat with her folks she made her excuses, leaving them to their regular activities. Her father would read the Sunday World-Herald then settle in with his account books. Her mother would settle in with her crocheting and an old movie on the DVD, as much for background noise as anything, since she'd watched all of them dozens of times.

Heading out to the tool shed around the rear of the house she selected a few items: a pick-axe, a round-nose shovel, a spade, a plastic tarp, a Handy-Hank pry tool and a spool of line and a few gutter nails. Grabbing a long tape measure she gathered her selection and headed out to the tree stand alongside the property line. There, amidst a stand of fir trees set low to the ground, their branches covering all but a few feet in between the rows, she set down her tools and started pacing off the trees, counting as she went.

From the outmost row away from the house she walked inside the tree line 5 trees, then in two rows. Using the flexible tape measure, and working around the branches of the trees, she determined the approximate center of the area between the sets of trees to the north and south. There she set a gutter nail. Taking the line she'd brought she pulled a length, then measured off 11 feet and a couple of inches. Tieing one end to the nail she stretched it out the full length, then stuck another nail in the ground and wrapped the line around it. Then, measuring 4 more feet she struck out at a right angle, placed another nail and again wrapped the line around it and tied it off, cutting it free when she had.

Back to the original starting point she again measured 4 feet, taking it again at a right angle, wrapping the end around yet another nail, then closed the box with the string.

Finally she measured 3 feet along the long side of the line, placed a nail, then did the same on the other side, then ran a line between the two. When finished she had outline a box running east to west, with a smaller box at one end.

Using the spade she then began to dig, cutting the long grass several inches deep along the short length of the string, then up to the cross string, and around until she had outlined the shorted box. Laying the tarp out on the end of the outline she then divided the cot sod section into 4 equal size pieces. Sliding under them with the spade she severed them then carefully lifted them out and lay them grass up on the sod in the order in which they'd been removed. When completed she had a patch to replace when she was completed. The long grass would help hide the cuts, since it was never mowed between the trees.

Grabbing the pick-axe then she set to work. The target of her endeavors lay 18" below the soil and the ground had been undisturbed for 8 years. The soil was turned up, then using the shovel she scooped it out and onto the uncovered area of the tarp. It took two turns with the pick to loosen the soil all the way down. She was coated in sweat and grime by the time she reached her target and the spade was used to clean it off.

Returning to the shed she this time retrieved an iron camp tripod, like one used over a campfire to support a kettle or coffee pot. In fact, this is what it was, with the addition of round metal feet on the ends of the legs so that it wouldn't sink into soft ground as easily. Along with it she reached into a hidden recess in one corner and retrieved a small pulley and rope assembly placed there against this day. It attached to the tripod using the chain and iron hanger that normally suspended the pot.

Returning to her excavation site she set the items down, then grabbing the handy-Hank set about prying the double head nails from the lid of the revealed box. They'd been treated against corrosion with silicone caulking so that the exposed heads would not rust away. The box itself was very well treated against water damage and sported a modest dome in the top to better shed moisture. The sides had been tarred and plastic covered just as a house's foundation was treated before being backfilled. Underneath it all was a layer of gravel and sand for drainage, 6" deep on all sides.

The nails removed she next set up the tripod and pulley system, straddling the lid, then hooked into a secure lifting ring set into the lid, likewise treated with the silicone caulking and firmly attached inside the lid with a back-up plate so it could not pull free by itself.

Steeling herself she grasped the rope and pulled. The lid resisted at first but she had calculated the mechanical advantage of the 2-pulley system well and after a minute's hesitation there was a creak then decreasing resistance as the lid popped open, hinging itself on the other end. Working her way up the rope she took the lose end and wrapped it around the top of the tripod a few times to secure it against slippage, then stuck the wide end of the pick-axe under the open end of the lid and pried it up further until she had a foot-wide gap.

Carefully then lest she slip into the opening she grasped the lid with one hand, then dropping the pick-axe the other, and heaved. It was sturdily built and weighed close to 40#, but by walking along the side of the opening she walked it back until it rested against tree branches. She dragged it back a bit further then retrieved the pick-axe and stuck it in the ground against the bottom of the lid to keep it from sliding into her as she worked.

Stopping to catch her breath she stood with hands on her hips and stared at the object of over an hour's hard labor. Buried treasure…
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter VI - Part II

Dateline: Forward Aid Station, Virginia, and Elsewhere

Charlotte and her people had been busy meanwhile. All the time they were meeting with Andrea and making arrangements they were also recruiting, gathering and making contact with trusted agents and spreading the word about Battalion Aid Midwest.

The fighting across the eastern part of the country was going both good and bad. Losses were heavy on both sides but the invaders had the advantage of government support and thus apparent legality. Whereas they could demand medical attention, resupply, etc for their forces the Patriots were forced to provide their own or depend upon sympathetic Americans who weren't afraid to actively support them. So many simply wanted to be left alone by both sides, and millions on the public dole didn't give a damn simply because they just wanted their services, checks and handouts and didn't care who provided them. Many were 2nd and 3rd generation recipients, some even into the 4th.

Recognizing this fact - that resupply was a problem and that some health facilities could not be counted on to hide Patriots from turncoat government agents - the problem of medical aid was fast becoming a subject of interest. Reports of an underground hospital made their way around, thanks to Charlotte's people. But battlefield aid was another serious concern. Corpsmen were needed, and transportation to the hospital once the patient was stable for transfer. A wide call went out for volunteers. Everyone wanted to fight but it seemed few were willing to accept what they saw as rear area roles.

But gradually the first Forward Aid Station was formed and sent out to Virginia. Taking a circuitous route they made it to the area reported to have seen heavy fighting between Patriot and "government" forces. Minimally equipped at the outset their job was to treat life-threatening injuries, triaging as required, and send on the more serious cases for long term recovery in a safe rear area. Orthopedic cases in particular presented special problems because their recovery could easily take weeks if not months before they might be returned to active duty. Some, not even then.

The FAS was equipped with 3 GP Medium tents scrounged from a surplus store. These were to become the OR, the recovery tent and the 24-hour observation ward. Along the way 2 EMT's from a service in western PA joined the 3-vehicle convoy, having been alerted to their presence and mission by the patriot commo net, and added a "borrowed" inflatable tent, and several cases of disposable supplies that had been declared surplus. By whom they never said, and it was not asked. The inflatable became the immediate aid/triage area once they arrived.

Folding chiropractic tables served as OR tables, lighting was by 300watt halogen work lamps powered by a small generator - 2 lights for the OR tent, one for recovery, the rest of the available power used to recharge portable equipment, power a radio set and supply the autoclave. For the rest there were Coleman lanterns.

Folding cots from the same surplus store bedded the patients; the staff brought sleeping bags and roughed it. 2 RN's, 2 LPN's, a CMA, 3 EMT's and a Paramedic constituted the medical support staff. One doctor specializing in Family Practice and a veterinarian constituted the surgical team. They were equipped for basic life-saving surgery and no more. Most physicians were totally unprepared for the idea of practicing what amounted to ditch medicine and these two were considered a godsend. As the vet explained when he offered his services "I was a week-end warrior after college, so I know how to take orders, and I can sure set a bone whether man or beast." He was part of the team thereafter.

An aging Air Force pensioner in Indiana provided a well used but mechanically sound motor home to the cause. It was partially stripped out to allow 8 stretchers to be carried 4 per side stacked vertically on makeshift frames. It had it's own AC generator and the fuel tanks allowed for a 400 mile range, extended by simple virtue of adding a half dozen jerry cans with additional diesel to the roofrack, making over 700 miles before refueling possible. 2 EMT's and a RN from the FAS constituted the transfer crew when needed.

Before the week was over Battalion Aid Midwest would receive its first cases, from 2 different sources. And as yet there was only Andrea to run the show by herself.

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

Nearly 30 miles westward for the scene of the original ambush the mixed convoy passed through the small town of Goodland, Indiana. Unremarkable save for the annual sweet corn festival and its claim to a native son once making it to the baseball minor leagues where he pitched an occasional no-hitter there was little unremarkable about it. The town was too small to warrant it's own bypass so US 24 still wound through the middle of town, narrowing to 2 lanes bordered by brick buildings that in some cases had been built in the 1890's. That constituted half of the 3-block long business district, the rest more modern corrugated sheet metal or frame building erected within the past 40 years.

With the economic crisis that had swept much of the US back during the Terrorist Conflicts of "01-"05 several businesses had closed and the population gradually dwindled until only a couple hundred remained. The remaining buildings housed little of importance. Most people were either pensioners retired from farming or commuters to larger cities - when there were jobs to be found. The town itself had taken on a trashy appearance. During the early evening of this fateful night strangers had arrived. Men, boys and a few determined looking women, attired in various articles of camouflage, black and otherwise subdued clothing. Some had darkened faces; a couple wore balaclavas over their faces in spite of the summer heat.

Quickly rousing the citizens they advised all who would listen to grab their families and their cars and beat it out of town and stay gone for a couple of days - there was about to be a fight here and they didn't dare get caught in the middle of it. Just do not, whatever you do, go east. Utility poles were already being downed as they stood there listening. The way was blocked and there was trouble coming from that direction anyhow. Some people listened and took heed. A few decided they were safe enough in their basements. One already half-drunk fellow jeered at the assemblage in front of him.

"Wot in tarnashun is all yew poachers gonna do anyho'? Aye-rest me if'n I don' tak a likin' to ya's a givin' me orduhs ta git outa muh own house? Where yew all git off a tellin' me to move on anyho'? Ah gots me muh rats an' ain' no way I'se a goin' anywheres." He turned and looked at the other townsfolk with a "There, I guess I told them" sort of grin, then turned around to face the Patriots just in time to see the blur of the right hook that shut his lights out just before his feet flew out from under him and he carrumphed to the ground in a dingy heap of tobacco, beer and grease stained coveralls. There were no more arguments after that. Those that heeded the advice left. The rest scattered back to their houses and basements.

Eastward of town the crews there were completing their work. Telephone poles were dropped across the road and along the sides as well so that they could not be simply driven around. In a few carefully chosen spots the trick with the cultivation disks was repeated, this time with a little lose dirt scattered around. They had no idea how well it had worked the first time but one wag decided it'd be more realistic if they did in fact look as though there had been recent digging around them. 3 junked cars from a nearby auto shop were hastily dragged out as well, then reinforced with a tractor behind them so they couldn't simply be pushed aside. The drive wheel on one side was chained to further stall removal, the idea being to buy time for what was being arranged in town.

An hour after the last plate had been cleared from the bridge at just beyond at Lake Shafer the mixed convoy came upon the hasty roadblock. The lead Panhard slowed, then veered to one side and took up a guard position, expecting another ambush. Behind it a truck disgorged its troops on the double, these being former US soldiers turned mercenary - so long as they were paid, sheltered, clothed and fed and the orders supposedly came from the government they didn't care whether the OIC was a raghead or bluehat. To a man they had joined up simply to make a living. None were old enough to have seen service during the Conflicts. Patriot idealism was as foreign to them a college education to a gas jockey. They knew nothing of the destruction of American bases in the east that had refused to recognize the new government. To them these were rebel anti-government protesters armed with varmint guns.

No shots were fired, the roadblock appeared to have been shoved together then left unmanned. A small scouting party was ordered forward to where the highway curved a hundred yards beyond. They came back to report so sign of a manned ambush but power poles down all across the road ahead for the next quarter mile or better. A delaying tactic, nothing more.

The Arabic terrorist sneered in his belief that the so-called Patriot Army was afraid to stand and fight. Had he not lost a single man at the last ambush? This was a waste of time, nothing more. He ordered the cars and tractor pulled aside, until it was seen that they had been chained together and locked. Venting a stream of expletives in his native Farsi he ordered the lead Panhard to blast it with its 90 mm. Two rounds into the tangle broke it apart, then it rolled forward and used its front glacis to push the wreckage aside. There being no fuel remaining in the tanks there was no fire.

The convoy then pushed onward, slow and cautious but gaining confidence. Little did they know what awaited them just ahead.
Dateline: Oelwein, Iowa

After settling up with the shopkeeper at the Amish store Andrea turned her attention to other matters. Heading out again she passed again through Hazelton and continued northwards to Oelwein a few miles away. There she stopped in the first hardware store she saw and made a quick perusal of the plumbing department. There she selected several lengths of 2" PVC piping and some connectors of various designs for corners, etc. Not enough to draw attention, just someone making some repairs. She wasn't proficient herself but had learned over the years to perform basic plumbing when landlords failed to keep up the premises. In her mind ¾" and 2" diameter piping still fit one end to another. Adding cement she approached the counter and dropped off her selections.

Then to the tool section where she found a pipe cutter of the proper size, a small level, a chalk line and a Makita cordless drill. She added a spare battery with that and a couple large wood-boring bits and again dumped her selection on the counter. The clerk paid no particular attention to her. Dressed as she was she could have been anyone. Oelwein attracted people from a distance for one reason or another, having weathered the economic crunch fairly they had a good selection of local businesses.

Paying in cash she first carried the piping out to her vehicle and lashed it to the roofrack with bungee cords. Then she returned and picked up the sack with her other purchases and the cased Makita, bade her thanks to the clerk and departed.

Her next stop was the lumberyard just down the highway. There she bought another 40' of 2" piping, then a reducer and 60' of ¾' PVC piping. When the clerk looked past her at the load on the Blazer she just said, "They didn't have enough down the street. Oh, by the way, I need s shower fitting that will work with this. Nothing fancy, plain will do, with a watersaver head please. The rural water system sure likes their water, if you know what I mean."

The clerk had to smile at that. "Oh yes, they sure do don't they though. Charge ya $300 to hook up back when and then they have their minimum charge of 15,000 gallons a month. Yep, we sell a lot of these little babies all right. Got just what you need over here, on sale too."

Leading her over to a shelf he selected a basic showerhead set, then handed her another package. "You'll need this to fit it to the PVC. Has glue on fittings for one end and the screw in fitting to attach to the shower connector. After that it's all metal parts. You going to feed the shower with a 2" line?"

"Oh that? Oh no, we have to redo the lines for the stalls and my husband wants to have 2 hoses running to cut the time down. It's a dairy operation. You know how that goes. The last time we were inspected they said the water pressure wasn't high enough."

The clerk nodded sagely. "Yep, always the regulations for our own good. Never used to be that way, but times change. Just like the government. Can't believe half what you hear these days but way things are going we're in for rough times. Heard they bombed the White House too. Damn shame that, damn shame."

Paying for her merchandise she took her leave, again making 2 trips to the Blazer and securing everything as before. Once again she wheeled out onto the highway, drove until she found the local Hardee's, and after parking in a lot next door so as not to appear too conspicuous with her out of county plates she went in for some lunch and to listen to the local coffee talk.

Dateline: Schleswig, Iowa

As she stood there for a moment staring at the contents of the cache she had just dug up, laboriously lifted out and set to the side, her cell phone rang. Checking the caller ID she saw it was a number she recognized.

"Hi!" she said in a cheery, it winded, voice.

Chuckling was the response from the other end. "Well, I see somebody is pleased. Are we enjoying ourselves yet?"

"Oh you have no idea. It feels so good to be off from work, even if I'm working harder than I have in years. I'm here at the folks' farm. How are things at work anyhow?"

"Well dear, to be honest the shortages are starting to show, and with the missing staff, well, let's just say it's a good thing Dr. Frohm decided to reduce the elective surgery load. There's already talk of reducing routine IV's and antibiotics as a standard of care."

"Things are that bad then?"

"No, but somebody actually decided that maybe this wasn't all going to blow over any time soon, and pointed out that we already had to switch a couple of brands on items that were produced in Maryland. We heard that one of the factories had been destroyed in the fighting. Oh, not to change the subject but I was making scrambled eggs the other day…"

"It's on Char. We can speak freely."

"Good girl! Okay, listen closely. There's activity moving this direction. Several of the military bases out east have been totally wiped out. Just as bad, or even worse, is some of our forces have joined with the Arabs. Not a lot mind you, and they are all regular troops. But some of them are still fooled into thinking they are backing a legitimate government. They actually believe all the propaganda about rebel forces and such, and the government having to invite foreign assistance to fight them off."

Andrea was silent for a moment as she digested this bit of news. There was legitimate worry that this might happen. There were so many anti-conservative, anti-freedom groups still after all these past years. Some were radical enough to join forces against the people of the US just to see what they thought to be a more enlightened form of government put in place, like the ELF people they had talked about at brunch earlier.

"Do you see any danger to our project?"

"No, our people are sure about that. The measures we've taken are working. There's nothing to trace either yourself or us to it. It's secure as we can make it. And that's pretty darn good. No one at work suspects a thing about you. You are 100% in the clear, girl."
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter VII - Part I

PATRIOT AID STATION Chapter VII

THE FIRST CASUALTIES

Dateline: Ottumwa

Charlotte and crew were busy behind the scenes. Unbeknownst to Andrea they had quietly been putting out the word about the hospital. No, it wasn't in operation yet but would be soon. Details would be provided to certain area commanders and trusted individuals. Forward aid stations were in the works already in addition. There was one forming now to head out east, and they were in contact with a group in the Kentucky/Tennessee area who were planning another hospital also.

A semi tractor/ trailer combination was being readied even now to transport the equipment to the hospital. In addition to the medical stores there was food, clothing, water purification and distillation equipment. There was fuel for the kerosene heaters, stretchers, bedding, cooking gear, a pair of wood-fired hot water heaters that had been hastily ordered built at a local machine shop, the radio gear, batteries, a couple of tents and camo nets to store supplies in. There was a large chest freezer slated for one of the tents, powered by propane the same as the generator. A separate truck was going to transport a pair of tanks to the farm. Arrangements had also been made to have them filled by an area supplier - completely off the record so as to be untraceable by dint of delivery receipts. The network was large and well organized, having come together during the civil liberties crackdowns of the early part of the century following the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks and the start of the Terrorist Conflicts.

The chosen semi belonged to a well-known animal feed company with scattered mills throughout much of Iowa and into Illinois and Missouri. It was hardly unusual to see their trucks on the highways, delivering sacked feed supplements and nutrients. It was perfect cover unless perchance the truck was stopped and thoroughly searched. The load had even been calculated for the approximate proper weight for the supposed cargo. No weigh station or DOT officer was going to have the slightest excuse to impound the truck and its contents for a violation. The truck was properly registered, the equipment all operational, the driver current with his CDL and employed by the same company. The detour to the hospital was no more than 30 miles off the expected route for one of the mills owned by the company.

A local milling company that had fallen on bad times had been bought out for a song in "03. From that time onward it had been carefully prepped as a storage depot for the group. Under the guise of renovation several large underground vaults had been installed by trusted workers and filled with supplies contributed by various members.

Storage foods had been obtained by the tons; buckets, cans and bins from all over the country. A self-employed OTR trucker who belonged to the group had been making random pickups all over the country for several years. No one source had records showing more than enough purchases to feed perhaps 10 people for a year for any of the "customers." Each had been contacted, an order placed, and arrangements made to have it picked up on a certain approximate date. The common carrier company would call to say when their driver would be arriving. Payment was always made via money orders, bank drafts or cashiers checks. The same bank was never used twice and the drafts and checks were always paid for in cash. It took planning, but it was done with a careful eye to concealing the real destination. Bank XYZ would only have records showing a draft purchased for perhaps a couple thousand dollars made out to ABC Food Company. None of the sellers ever questioned why payment might arrive in the form of several differing drafts, money orders, etc. Obviously it was a group purchase, to be picked up and distributed. Less work for them, so why question it. It was done all the time, ever since Y2K and more so since the advent of the Terrorist Conflicts.

The plan was to move as much as possible at one time to the farm. Future deliveries could be made of course, but in case the roads became routinely blocked, as was looking to be the case in some areas, they would have enough supplies to last them several months.

Provided as part of the communications plan were 3 separate 1-time cipher pads. These were computer generated and printed by a friend of the network who ran a small business performing this service. Under the watchful eyes of a group representative a computer would be presented to him, a program installed, and the provided printer of a certain make and model attached. The program was as truly random in its generations as could be had by design. There was no danger of the same pads being replicated over and over. Thus should one group's pads fall into the wrong hands there was no danger of providing a "key" to other pads used by other groups.

The program generated as many pages as the buyer requested. Normally 25 pages of codes were printed each time in whatever quantity was desired. Then they would be bound into tear-off pads. Sometimes there would be 2 copies, sometimes 20 or more. On the larger numbers it was often done to confuse the number of potential holders. Extra pads would be destroyed with the code generator having no real idea how many people or teams might make up a group. If more codes were desired another 25 codes were developed, printed and bound, and so forth.

Once completed the computer and printer went with the buyer, to be handled however they wished. The code geek recommended they destroy physically the memory chips in both as an added precaution against inadvertently providing a key. Because there was no record retained by the geek there was no way for him to know the key. The only possible flaw would have been if the program used the same algorithm for each code set for each client. Needless to say he - the geek - had been thoroughly tested several times and the program itself as well. There were no other copies in other hands and the geek's arrangements were sufficient to see to the immediate destruction of the program if it were ever threatened with capture. The NSA would have been proud of him had they known.

With the pads Andrea had yet another means of communication, depending on couriers if need be, otherwise a small keypad unit could accept the message and transmit it via her radio. By the time the majority of the work to the farm was done the truck would have arrived, the supplies would be off-loaded, and she would be set to begin active operations.

Dateline: Des Moines

In Des Moines the Governor's office was beginning to stir. Influenced by infiltrators from several years previously he was swaying badly. Though on the surface not a bad man at heart nevertheless he was still a liberal. How he had managed to remain in office all these years was the subject of many debates. One of his early actions upon first gaining the office was to qualify same-sex "domestic partners" of State employees for health benefits under the family plan. The media poorly treated the resulting uproar. Not one pundit spoke out against it from any of the urban areas. Rural papers were ignored.

No, Governor Balsack was not evil by intent, but rather by way of his actions he furthered the causes of evil. Rather than acting decisively in defense of the Constitution and American citizens he dithered and attempted to "reach a point of mutual understanding' with the new government. Even after Hillary Boxer's sudden "illness" he was conciliatory. While he didn't mobilize the Guard units to aid in the fight against the so-called Rebels neither did he come out for them, but instead preached "studied calmness during this period of domestic crisis." Meanwhile, his staff readied pre-written action plans. He needed only to accept them as designed and orders would go out effectively placing the state under martial law. The gun confiscations were federal. Soon matters were going to be directed at the local level. That as much as anything was going to have a serious effect on the fence sitters.

The economy continued to nose-dive. Trading in the markets had been suspended for the duration, prices frozen by edict until further notice. Bond traders and stockbrokers alike were clamoring for the government to do something. They were being ruined! It wasn't what was happening to millions of small and medium investors that concerned them, it was the effect on their lifestyles. Corporations were inundating bankruptcy courts with filings. Those favorable to the governmental byline were protected under Chapter 11. Those disfavorable - and here the courts were very liberal in favor of the government - were told to dissolve, their assets being placed up for auction for pennies on the dollar, and in some cases confiscated outright and transferred to the new National Resource Retention Trust. Which was nothing more than a shallow front for the nationalization of certain key industries.

In the small city of Mount Vernon, Ohio, another drama was about to be played out as government forces attempted to enforce the ordered transfer of a Rolls-Royce Company plant with key military contracts.

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

The sun was beginning to wane in the western sky by the time the small convoy of mixed nationality troops approached the small town of Goodland. The OIC was furious! After turning over the first dozen or so and seeing they were just another spoof he ordered the convoy to continue on and ignore the pathetic attempts at deception. They had been given no choice in one place because of a creek that ran under the road. It was just wide and deep enough to block anything but a tracked vehicle. One pole at either end of the small bridge had been fastened with cabling, preventing their being shoved aside. The cable was an inch thick and hastily spot welded at several points. It was too thick to be cut with a bolt cutter and the timbers had to be sawn through manually.

Ahead, he could see the road was clear of obstructions for the last half-mile before the town. Soon they would be off these accursed fields and back on pavement. From a few scattered tools he surmised that his column had taken the saboteurs by surprise before they could complete their work. Too bad. It would not prevent his convoy from rolling right through their puny village. Perhaps a few well-tossed grenades as they did so, just to teach these dogs a lesson? He gave it serious thought.

A small wood on one side of the road dictated using the field opposite, and then the road ahead lay clear. As usual the lead Panhard was first, its commander watchful for signs of ambush. Behind the trucks themselves, then the 2nd Panhard. The plates had been spread over a half-mile length of roadside - both sides when it was possible to take either way - the sole path when not. Only a few dozens of yards on this last stretch, through the fence line, through a soybean field then back onto clear pavement and smooth sailing. The lead armored car passed onto the road, then the first of the trucks, the second, and the third….

KaaBLOOOOM!!!!!

Dateline: Andrea's Parent's Farm, Schleswig, Iowa

As she carried her stash to the Blazer - parked well away from the house behind the cover of very old elm that lay between the house and her route from the pine grove - Andrea had pause to reflect on times past before this all became necessary. 20 years ago in 1991 she 14 years old. She had her first crush on a guy in her class; she had her Learner's permit as was able to drive the car on the roads with her mother or father along, though she was no stranger to driving on her uncles' farms.

Her father didn't farm his ground but rather rented it out, keeping only a few acres around the house for family use. Living in a small town like Schleswig it was sometimes hard to tell where city ended and countryside began. There was a modest barn used to store things, which of course was a favorite playground. And old coop no longer used for chickens even back then. Life was fairly quiet then for a 14-year-old girl not given to getting into trouble.

Ahh, but then there were the holidays. Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving was always at her parents' house, the relatives coming over and bringing their contributions to the feast. Aunt Clarice's fruit pies, her Grandma Steinkuhler with molded Jell-O filled with colored marshmallows, apple salad with glazed walnuts for Aunt Dorothy. Mom bustled about the kitchen readying the turkey, sage dressing and the relish tray and of course pumpkin pies prepared the night before. Then there was sweet corn harvested from that year's garden, real mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, flaky dinner rolls, real butter, cranberry salad, green bean casserole with French fried onions on top, and creamed peas. Once the kids reached 10 years of age they could also have a glass of wine with the meal. That really made them feel grown up. It never mattered to them that it was a rose', at least not back then it didn't.

As these and other memories of years past and holidays spent at home meandered through her mind, heedless of her physical toil, she sighed unconsciously. Who knew if there would be a Thanksgiving this year? Would foreign armies still occupy her country by Christmas time? Would Independence Day be celebrated at all? There were no ready answers forthcoming to her mind, only thoughts of carrying on with her mission. If she did nothing to ensure a future how could she expect others to carry the fight on her stead?

As in so many conflicts it was power hungry politicians who had caused the war. Without the usurper to the Presidency there would have been no foreign invaders, no war on American soil. Washington, D.C. was occupied, the Constitution in enemy hands, the monuments used to house ammo dumps, the grassy malls torn up by tank tracks and lugged wheels.

America tried to carry on as best She could. People still needed to eat, to fuel their vehicles, to heat and cool their houses. There was always sickness and injury and death whether there was war or not. But since the assassinations churches had seen renewed interest in prayer, conversion, repentance and sacrifice on a scale even greater than after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. America was infected with a cancer. But so far it had not spread throughout the body but rather was relatively confined to a few areas. A few cancer cells broke away and traveled through Her veins, but so far they were being taken care of by Her guardians. So far.

Dateline: Oelwein, Iowa

Ordering a burger, Coke and fries at the counter Andrea grabbed the complimentary newspaper from the rack before selecting a table where she could overhear the coffee klatch crowd as they discussed whatever the topic of the day was. Pretending to read the news while she ate she was actually focused on the nearby conversations.

"Say, d'ya hear the Rooney boy took off and joined the militia?"

"No, I ain't heard nothing. When'd this happen?"

"Oh near abouts 2 weeks ago now."

"Well I'll be. Where' d'ya hear this?"

"Over to Leo's when I was getting my haircut. Jist took off I hear, din't say nothing to no body. "

" Zat a fact? Hmmpphh." Shaking his head the listener pondered for a minute. "How many that make now anyways?"

"Oh, near abouts 15 or so's I reckon."

At another table near the two men sat 3 women listening in for a moment before they turned back to their own conversation. "Can you imagine how his mother must feel? He didn't even take the time to say goodbye."

A grandmotherly sort who looked as though she had weathered her share of life was the next to speak. "Well, I just don't know. They don't need to be doing all this fighting anyhow. Just kids I tell you. Run off to go a fightin', and for what? No good reason that's what! Can't even take the time to say a proper goodbye to his mother. I never raised no child so disrespectful in all my years."

The first speaker chimed back in. "I don't know all the details but when the Robinson boys decided to go over to Wisconsin to join some others they were telling their family that it was just a matter of time before things spread this far. I don't 'spect they got a lot of argument from Royce. He was in Viet Nam you know. Always did have a strong streak of patriotism in him."

Grandma spoke again: "But those two were just boys! The one wasn't but 17 I tell you! At least they said their good-byes. Still don't have no business running off to go with the militias. I don't know what the world is coming to."

The 3rd member of the group, who had been silent to this point, quietly chimed in. My daughter-in-law was one of the smallpox victims in Toledo. Such a lovely girl, Steven was so proud when he brought her home to meet her father and I the first time."

The other two looked at her, not sure what to say.

The speaker continued after a moment: " I'm afraid we are going to lose a lot of our young folks before this is all done. Steven was devastated when she died. So many people and not enough vaccine to go around. There was no reason to do that to Toledo. And now the same people who did that have invaded us. We haven't heard from Steven for a month now. Wouldn't surprise me if he has gone and joined up too. They hadn't had any kids yet you know, when she died."

Having finished her lunch Andrea decided this was a good time to take her leave. Nothing she had heard gave her pause. If anything it only strengthened her resolve.

After completing her errands in Oelwein Andrea headed back eastwards towards her hospital. One of the items she had been provided with by Charlotte's people was a county TAM map. Using this she was able to pick a back route back without passing through any towns and in fact by very few occupied farms. Hence her rooftop cargo attracted little if any attention. The journey back was uneventful. Her first matter of business was to unload her purchases and place them in the barn for now.

Dareline: Mount Vernon, Ohio

In Mount Vernon, Ohio, tension was mounting. A group of government officials, backed up by law enforcement and a few guardsmen who were "just doing their duty as ordered" presented themselves to the plant management at Rolls-Royce. One rather portly buffoon, filled with self-importance - he was a representative of the new People's Republic after all - pulled a sheaf of documents from an emblem stamped briefcase, and coughing for attention, began to read to the assembled plant and local officials.

"By order of the Office of the National Resource Retention Trust, having determined that the facility known as the Rolls-Royce Power Engineering - United States Division, Mount Vernon, hereafter referred to as Rolls-Royce, is a valuable national resource both in the products it produces and the mind trust it represents, has been thereby declared a National Resource to be placed under the immediate protection of the lawful and benevolent government of the Peoples' Republic of the United States. Henceforth and without delay the administration of this facility shall be overseen by the judicious governance of a representative of the National Resource Retention Trust - yours truly - for the efficient continuance of all operations, planning, capital disbursement, production, policy, wage disbursement, benefits, community service, shipping, receiving, security…uh, etc."

Here he finally paused to take a deep breath, seemed to lose his place, then turning a couple pages over he apparently located what he was looking for and continued…

"Therefore, upon presentation of this document, duly signed by the authorized representative of the National Resource Retention Trust - yours truly again," with a quick cheap smile, "the management of this plant and pro tem ownership of same shall be assumed under the authority of The Trust with expediency and without obstacle."

Drawing himself up to his full 5'5" and sturdy girth of 238# he assumed a rather haughty air as he motioned to the agents with him who then quickly surrounded the gathered managers and corporate representatives. They evinced a no-nonsense air about them. None were career agents but assorted bullies with nominal law enforcement backgrounds who had been hired since the assassinations. Hired because they could be counted on to obey without question their orders no matter how they might run afoul of previous Constitutional restrictions. Whereas in previous years there were both good and bad agents and many in between depending on how promotions and other considerations might be determined these were thugs at best. There was no pretense of civil procedure, rights or restraint. They were representative of a new, different breed. Often fired from federal, state and local law enforcement for misconduct and worse they cared only for a chance to bully people. Few had college degrees. Higher education was for pukes in their minds.

"Well now, gentlemen," studiously ignoring the few ladies present, "Let's get down to the business of re-organizing this little operation. The Peoples' Army needs those turboshafts for their heroic helicopter crews to use in their just fight against the rebel forces."

Pointing to a business pantsuit-clad woman he pointed and said, "Let's start with you, dearie."
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter VII - Part II

Dateline: Andrea's Parent's Farm, Schleswig, Iowa

Andrea was at last able to relay the sod over the now recovered cache. The Blazer was loaded and the contents covered. Rummaging around in the larger storage shed she had extracted a few items that were allowed to stick out from under the old blankets. Here there was a pair of coffee table legs sticking up just inside the tailgate window with a corresponding lump farther towards the front under the blankets. Unseen was the wire holding the legs and joining crosspiece to a metal ammo crate hidden from view. Worn but serviceable broom and string mops were tossed atop seeming to have been an afterthought. A large box of canning jars sat on the passenger seat concealing the contents of an identical box underneath. The original contents had been switched for new items in order to pull off the deception. Thus she had managed to load her find and conceal it from casual observation. No point taking any chances.

Completed with her mission at last she went back into the house. Her father had finished with his bookwork and was now ensconced in front of the TV with an old John Wayne movie playing on the DVD. Her mother had relinquished control after her movie ended. Both her parents liked old movies, just not the same ones. Seated now in her overstuffed chair, an inheritance from a favored aunt, her mother continued to crochet, her back now turned to the TV, humming to herself every time the sounds of gunfire erupted from the TV speakers.

Looking up and her daughter entered the room she took note of her bedraggled appearance. "Why Andy darling, what have you been in to?"

"Just out rummaging around in some of that stuff I have stored Mom. I loaded a bunch in the Blazer to take back with me this time."

"Oh, well, I can see why you look like that then. What did you get anyhow?"

Andrea affected a disinterested air. "Oh, just some furniture, pictures and other odds and ends. I've been wanting to do something different with my place for a while now and just haven't bothered to dig through the shed when I've been up here."

Her mother went back to her crocheting then. "Well, that's good. You know we don't mind storing it. It isn't in our way after all."

"Oh, I know, Mom. I may bring some other stuff back later on that I don't need, or I may just sell it. I haven't decided yet. No big rush, I have time since I'm on vacation."

Her mother nodded to herself, her fingers still flying with her needles and yarn. "Are you still planning on going out west for a while?"

Andrea replied, "Yes. No point in planning to see the Smokey Mountains this year. Too close to the ruckus out east." Her mother, she knew, didn't care to hear much about the fighting going on elsewhere in the country, so she simply glossed over it to reassure her that her daughter wasn't planning anything that might endanger her. What she did not know would not cause her worry. There would be enough of that soon enough.

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

The sudden explosion claimed its victim. The 4th truck in line had driven right over one of the "harmless decoys" that had been ignored for the past mile and a half. Since they had all turned out to be nothing more than disc plates they were soon seen as a simple ruse. Lulled into a false sense of security they were no longer given even a cursory glance. A simple chemical fuse fashioned with materials obtained from a high school lab had detonated 11 pounds of 60% TNT obtained from an accommodating quarry. Using old-fashioned fused caps the chemical fuse ignited a 1" fuse when the front tire passed over the plate, shattering a glass vial. There was just enough time for the cargo bed of the truck to almost pass over the plate before it blew. Almost…

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Andrea had busied herself preparing for the arrival of the supply delivery the next day. With the house swept, washed down, repainted in whitewash inside, handrails on the stairs, broken windows mended and more there was little to do inside save to determine what would go where. The one downstairs room of course would be the Intensive Care Ward. Upstairs was set aside as separate rooms for men, women, and her own quarters, the latter also doubling as extra storage space.

The grounds outside had been prepared as well, with a careful eye towards appearing relatively unaltered as viewed by passersby on the road. Tents would be erected under the shade of trees; the barn and other buildings utilized also. A water tower was intended to be erected on short stilts, enough to provide pressure for a water line to the barn and the house. It was not unreasonable to expect that one person might live with the inconvenience of well water. But were she to hook up the meter again to the rural water supply it would not only leave another tell-tale record but the sheer volume used might arouse suspicion.

She began by labeling cupboards in the old kitchen area. IV solutions - here. Tubing's next to them. Catheters and other related supplies right above that set of shelves. Higher up were the urinary catheters, trays and related items. Topmost towards the ceiling was labeled for laceration trays. They would not need to be accessed nearly so often and climbing a stool wouldn't present as great an inconvenience as it would if it had to be done every time a new bag of solution, etc was needed.

Next was for the Injection supplies to the immediate right of the IV cabinets. Syringes, needles, alcohol wipes. Lidocaine would be stored there as well as well as some antibiotics that did not require refrigeration such as Oxytetracycline. Without proper storage bins it was all going to be a jumble but she'd work something out. Both reusable glass and autoclavable plastic syringes as well as the more ordinary disposable ones. Disposable needles and reusable models as well. Sharps containers would be set below for the soiled reusable needles, syringes next to that, and other containers in each room for the disposables. Andrea was not about to take chances getting stuck carrying a used needle between rooms and she certainly knew better than to try recapping them. That was always cited as the major cause of accidental needle stick injuries.

More labels, neatly handwritten in large block letters that would be easily readable, were attached down the line of cabinets. The pantry room was treated the same way, sections designated for various supplies. The autoclaves would have to be set out in the kitchen itself because of the heat they generated, but the instrument sets once sterilized would be set in the pantry on designated shelves. Medications here, plaster casting supplies there, more IV solutions in reserve down there, Chux underpads there, bedpans, urinals, kidney pans, Mayo and Heart bowls there. What had seemed so ideal for her needs was quickly looking woefully small.

Dateline: USA

The war in the east dragged on. There was news reported - quietly through "unofficial" sources - that a strategic dam had been saved from destruction by the occupying forces. American irregular patriot troops combined with a loyal US tank crew had thwarted the attempt, inflicting severe losses on the occupying forces. It was a relatively small but nevertheless important victory for our side.

Forces were gathering, more and more young men and older alike were gathering, joining up in groups, training or heading eastward to join the fight. One of the more notorious groups was made up of members of a long-standing internet board known as AssaultWeb. Numbering over 23,000 registered members by this time it was stated by some party-line pundits that "in excess of 10,000 of these militant rebels are believed to have taken up arms in the illegal rebellion against the benevolent and legitimate government of the Peoples Republic of the United States. Our loyal fighting men and women and their valiant allies the Royal Guard are determined to put down this illegal insurrection and restore peace, harmony and prosperity to the oppressed peoples of the country."

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

The blast brought the convoy to a halt. The lead Panhard stopped fully on the pavement, turret swiveling in search of a target. No one aboard suspected as yet that there was not an RPG team close by but instead a leave and forget device. The OIC, riding in the 2nd truck's cab, was at first stunned. Then anger grew quickly within him. Dismounting he ran back to were the crippled vehicle and its men were being assisted by comrades from the other vehicles.

The TNT charge had done its job well. The blast was directed upward by the rude shaping with scrap steel plates that formed a "V" in the bottom of the hole. The disc plate sailed straight upwards, catching the underside of the truck immediately aft of the rear wheels. While not enough by any means to destroy the truck and its cargo of men it nevertheless cause the vehicle to tip over violently, spilling its unprepared burden as it did so. Tipping to the left it continued until the sides rested on the slight hillock that ridged the field. In doing so one man was crushed and quickly expired. Another was caught across the legs, fracturing both at the thighs. He would live for now but would present a burden on the rest of the troops. It would be a very long time before he would ever walk again, provided he lived that long.

The truck like the others had held 14 men in its rear. Of these 1 was obviously dead, another trapped and 3 more apparently unconscious. It appears that only 2 had escaped serious injury. Even the driver, once he was helped out of the overturned cab, was favoring an arm with an unnatural angle to it. His co-driver was bleeding well from a scalp wound, apparently from striking the windshield.

Quickly ordering an encircling perimeter guard he then ordered the other men to exam each remaining plate for evidence of charges. Then establish a safe detour around the crippled truck. A quick glance showed him that it was not repairable in the field. It would have to be abandoned and the remaining men divided up amongst the 5 remaining trucks. Time was growing short, evening turning to dusk and there was still that damnable hamlet ahead, so tantalizingly close now. He would make the fools pay for what they had done. His armor would lead the way, blasting at buildings as they ran through, his men emptying their AK74's and M16's, tossing grenades. If the American dogs thought they would stop him with this simple boobytrap they had another think coming.

Inside the town the hunters waited. They had heard the blast and knew their quarry was not far off. A grim smile formed itself on the face of their leader. It would be just like old times in the Kashmir Range.

Dateline: Mount Vernon, Ohio

The assemblage in the plant was impatient. They had been called together for an impromptu meeting with management and ordered to gather in a central area where they could be addressed from a platform above the shipping floor. Rumors sifted through the ranks of closure, of pay cuts, lay-offs, and even an emergency evacuation away from the foreign forces that a few said were on the way even now. Some of these men had worked in that same plant under different owners for over 20 years and were in no mood to see their livelihood ripped away from them.

Nearly 30 minutes after the announced time for the meeting the "suits" finally showed themselves on the platform above. As they came out armed guards in plainclothes quickly spread out around them, not the least shy about pointing MP5's just over the heads of the workers. Eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses their tight smiles seemed to say "We're in control now, punks." Regular uniformed plant security nervously took up positions around the outside of the room on the floor below. None were armed with anything more than pepper spray and batons.

The chief buffoon and erstwhile government representative and new plant director stepped to the railing surrounding the platform. Megaphone in hand he surveyed the gathered workers with obvious disdain. His smile was smug, not even condescending. Finally, after the background chatter had died down he raised the megaphone to his fat pouty lips.

"MY NAME IS PAUL BURMEISTER!!" The echoing feedback grated on listening ears and evidently the speakers as well, for he turned to someone behind him and handed them the megaphone after speaking to them. After a moment it was handed back. He took it doubtfully, frowning at it then blew through it a couple of times to test the volume. This brought a chorus of laughs and a couple Bronx cheers from below.

A scowl crossing his chubby features he raised it again in front of him. "You people will call me Deputy Burmeister. I am the new Plant Director here. By decree of the National Resources Retention Trust this plant and its products have been declared essential to the efforts of the lawful government of the Peoples Republic of the United States. Therefore it is my duty to inform you that this plant has been taken over by the NRRT" - he pronounced it NART, bringing another round of derision from below - "for the benefit of the people of the Republic and the efforts aimed at quelling this illegal rebellion."

This last brought open shouts of anger. There was little sympathy in this primarily blue-collar city for the new government and more than a little support for the patriots. As the voices began to rise the armed platform guards stepped forward, more openly threatening with their black guns. The unarmed plant security seemed unsure of what to do. In the midst of the crowd a few men withdrew spanners and vernier calipers from overall pockets, unseen by the guards.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

The truck had been partially loaded the day before at the old feed plant. There was just enough activity around the plant every few days to lend the impression that it was a small struggling operation and the appearance of the truck certainly wasn't going to arouse any suspicions. From the bunkers below the floors came foodstuffs of various sorts. Two large chests were also added, brought in by one of the "workers." More items gathered by Charlotte and a couple of trusted confederates in the hospital and a clinic. Amazing what could be fished from the trash. And happening upon a large box of professional samples at the clinic that were due to be tossed out because they'd reached their expiration dates was stroke of shear luck, save that the agent kept a sharp eye for such things.

The following morning the truck went to the storage unit where it was loaded under cover of waning darkness. Sturdy cots and a couple of folding roll away beds for serious cases - traction appliances could be rigged to the frames as well as military surplus clamp on IV poles - went in along with mattresses, bedding, boxes and boxes of medical goods Andrea had obtained from David. More goods were stored previously and now brought out and loaded. Pillows were tossed into feed sacks of the appropriate brand. There were close to 30 in all. These would be piled atop the other goods, with a one-layer wall of genuine feed supplements at the rear; enough to pass a causal eye and feel inspection.

The wood stoves, pipe, kerosene heaters, 2 4-burner propane stoves and a smaller 2-burner model, a pair of filled 100 pound propane bottles and half a dozen 20 pound bottles were added. Cases of IV solutions, the autoclaves, a few pieces of furniture, and the chiropractor's table that would serve as a basic operating table. Then there were the propane freezer, the like powered refrigerator made by Servo - used but in excellent shape - and of course the tents and attendant poles and accessories. Carefully calculated it would all add up to approximately 600 pounds less than it would have been had the truck loaded with its apparent cargo. A lot of planning went into this operation. These people might be considered senior but they weren't dull witted by any means. They'd have several years to prepare. Moving the stored goods, which were only a part of what they had at their disposal, was just something they figured into the equation when the time came.

Raymond had made a late night stop by Andrea's small rented house. A few things were gathered that she had specially requested. Items that might have aroused too much suspicion had she been stopped during her other trips preparatory to this day.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Andrea awake refreshed after a night's sleep. It had been warm enough that she slept on top of her sleeping bag and air mattress. Slipping on her shirt and Ecco boots she took a moment to fill her pockets once again. Swiss Army knife (camper's model), nail clippers, a locking folder in another pocket, two spare mags for her sidearm - here on out she would be armed day and night with her PT145. It had been specially tuned to her liking with tritium sights, a minor ramping and beveling to decrease any finickiness about ammo and a subduing of the slide to make it non-reflective. Bandanna in a rear pocket, her rosary in her left breast pocket. Donning her belt she wore for such occasions she added now a utility pouch in black nylon with a Mini-Mag and trauma shears, and a Multi-Tool in it's own pouch on the opposite side. Satisfied she grabbed a brush and gave her hair a quick going through.

Today it would begin in earnest. Once the truck arrived and was off-loaded things would go very quickly. During her last communication she had been advised that the word had been spread and likely she might see her first casualties before a few days had passed as wounded were removed from less safe areas.

Dateline: Middleton, Iowa

At the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant hasty preparations were still under way. A force of some 182 men and women was gathered to defend the plant from the convoy that was presumed to be destined for it. Unless by chance the groups along the way who were attempting to delay their arrival were far more successful then they had planned the brunt of the action would fall upon them. Word had received that a supplementary force of federal agents and a few deputies from a pair of central Iowa counties were also on the way to assist in the take-over had reached them. They were due to arrive at a designated staging area 20 miles to the east later in the evening and there join up with the Royal Guard mixed force in the morning.

Little did they know what was in store for them. Too bad they had chosen loyalty to the government over patriotism, but with the new breed of badge holders the past few years, and especially since the assassinations, it was to be expected. There had been so many agents leave the past 5 years because of what they saw as a steady march towards unconstitutional practices ordered by their superiors. They had readily found work in private firms and industries, and since the invasion no few had joined up with patriot forces.

Dateline: USA

In the eastern part of the country the volunteers of the Patriot Aid Station unit sent to Virginia had arrived and set up their field unit. Just in time as a big push against DC was in the making. There were enough casualties as it was, and the promise of many more soon to come. Survivors from an area hospital that had been targeted by opposition forces quickly joined ranks and swelled the contingent of caregivers. For now the area was thought to be safe with the influx of sufficient forces to guard against another attack by small units.

California was under effective martial law. With a very long history of liberal governance from Sacramento and the increasingly onerous gun laws denying the citizens their right to keep and bear their choice of arms there was little opposition once the total clamp down came. Resistance sprang up here and there, but until outside help could be brought to bear California was effectively out of the larger fight.

Dateline: Andrea's Parent's Farm, Schleswig, Iowa

Andrea took leave of her parents by mid-evening. She promised a longer stay next time but she really wanted to get back home, drop off her load, repack and head west. She was afraid there might be travel restrictions enacted soon and she didn't want to chance being caught. Bad enough that gasoline was already up to 2.46 a gallon, and forecasts only had it climbing higher as restrictions on imports increased. In fact it would be already save that oil companies were desperately trying to stay in business with lower prices because of the decreased sales. Tourism, which should have been in full swing already, was dead in the eastern part of the country. Only the Rockies could claim any it seems and that was down 2/3's already.

Her parents understood but still worried. Why did she have to taker this trip now? Surely the fighting would end soon and all would return to normal. It would be much safer then and gas prices would drop and was it really such a good idea right now? Smiling at their concern she assured them that she had checked into things and was certain she'd be safe. But if the fighting did not die soon she might not have a chance for several years the way the economy was failing.

Finally she was able to pull out and head back eastward. But instead of going home she was headed towards St. Olaf. Her work on the old farm would begin now and soon she'd be in operation. She hated the deceiving her parents like that but it was the safest thing to do, for their sakes as well as hers.

The trip back was as cautious as the trip up. Back highways and county roads that would have seen sparse traffic at this time even during more normal times. She'd filled up in Schleswig so fuel was not a concern. Her cover was in place - she hoped. She had her route more or less firmly in mind. Until she passed the point she should have turned south towards Ottumwa her story about moving furniture and such from her folks to her house should be explanation enough for being on the roads. Her luck held until she was just outside of Maxwell on Highway 210.

Dateline: PAS Convoy

The little convoy set out from Ottumwa by 7:30. Added precautions had been taken. One driver had come down the night before from Marshall County, thus sporting plates from same. Charlotte's Explorer was tagged in Wapello County of course and the truck itself was registered in Iowa County. Between the 3 vehicles there was a mile and half spread so it would not appear as though they were traveling together. In case the truck was stopped for any reason the other two would continue on for a couple miles then find a side road to pull over on and weight just in case there was any trouble.

Charlotte led the way, her brother Raymond with her. They were attired in casual dress clothes and were officially on their way to a funeral in Waukon. Suitcases and miscellaneous seemed to indicate they planned to be gone for a few days, and Raymond even had a notice of a death in the Waukon area indicating a service the following day.

The man from Marshall County - Richard, or Rick as everyone called him - worked for a copy machine sales company. He had 3 units in the back of his Jeep Wagoneer. Close inspection would have revealed they were hollow shells, carrying certain things best not seen by official eyes. His was the commo gear, a bundle of Federal Reserve Notes for contingencies, and batteries, lots of batteries.

A custom solar powered 12-volt power system was intended to power the radio. A man known only as Stalking Wolf on the net had built these units for the group and they were in wide use. Consisting in this case of a pair of deep cycle marine batteries, a 16 volt solar panel, battery boxes and 12 volt meter, an small inverter for flexibility and a 3 outlet DC inlet unit. One battery alone could power the radio in standby for 28 hours and lantern batteries could serve as an emergency backup. In a pinch there was even a rig that used multiple "D" cell batteries hooked together in series, though transmitting would greatly shorten the life of this unit.

Dateline: Mount Vernon, Ohio

The representative from NRRT droned on seemingly in endless fashion, ignorant of the growing anger and resentment of the crowd of people below. It would be later claimed there had been over 1,000 people in the plant that day, many of them rebels snuck in with the cooperation of sympathizers amongst the employees. In truth there were 628 workers, and no Patriot Army members.

"We have your best interests in mind. You will continue to be paid, using the newly approved Peoples' Bonds. Once these are issued all of the old currency must be turned in for exchange. The local banks will be instructed not to issue any more of the old Federal Reserve Notes and instead issue only Bonds. You MUST! Turn in your old currency here at the plant. Careful track will be kept of who exchanges how much so that there is no cheating. Until local merchants are set up with the new currency there will be a company store to supply all of your needs. You may spend your Bonds there, and of course we will issue Warrants in your name for use in sending payments outside of the area. This is for your protection against the counterfeiting activities of the rebels. "

The murmur on the floor below increased to the point it could no longer be ignored. A shout went up from the crowd. "What counterfeiting? This is just a plan to deprive us of our hard-earned money. Company store? You mean company rip-off with double prices, don't you!"

Burmeister's face acquired a hard look to it, his jaw working furiously as he sought to control his impulsive outburst. Treason! That was what the man was spouting, treason! Obviously he was a plant by the rebels. He needed to be dealt with and firmly, right here and now. That was the only way to handle a rabble like this, he told himself. Quell any dissent before it caught on. He could see how others in the crowd were nodding in agreement and beginning to discuss the loudmouth's outburst amongst themselves. Time to act decisively.

"You there! Guards! Seize that man and bring him to me!"
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter VIII - Part III

Dateline: Chadron, Nebraska

The Earth Liberation Front's John Muir Brigade had been wreaking havoc throughout the western and Plains states. Splitting up into 3 separate units to confuse followers they struck at 3 differing targets at once, widely separated to avoid establishing a route pattern. The plan was to sneak away and rejoin later in force to smash their way through the Midwest. A dam was all but rendered useless on Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota; a signboard left behind proclaiming "So the Missouri can flo (sic) free as Gaia intends."
Near the South Dakota town of Newell a government experimental farm was razed by fire. And in Nebraska the dam at the Calumus Reservoir caused serious flooding downstream, all but destroying the towns of Burwell, Elyra and Ord and forcing forcing ranches to evacuate along the river. 31 lives were lost as a result of the eco-terrorist attacks. And needed crops were lost along with livestock. Winter, when it came, might be hard indeed.

Near Chadron, NE, the southern company of rock loving misguided terrorists ran into their first trouble. A roadblock set up by a hastily assembled home grown militia force. Armed with everything from Ruger 10-22's to a homemade mortar fashioned from PVC piping and powered by compressed air the locals were waiting for them, tipped off by an alert rancher along a back road they traveled. The greenies lacked military experience save for a couple clerk types. After Basic they had never even qualified again, managing to edit their own unit records. They had only joined up in order to have inside contacts for the "peace movement." Neither had served more than a single enlistment.

The strange collection of school buses, pickup trucks and even an aging Flower* Power* VW Kampwagen decorated with a Beatles motif was brought up short in the middle of a stretch of straight highway amidst low rolling hills. The local Sheriff, heading up the hasty posse, called to them with a bullhorn.

"You in the busses! We have you surrounded. Throw out your weapons and then sit tight until we tell you different! This is your only warning!"

Silence was all that came forth from the motley collection of vehicles. Then, a clatter as a small caliber rifle was tossed out the window of the 2nd bus. Then a daypack from the opposite side. A loud THUNK! arose as it too hit the pavement. Then a growing cascade of baseball bats, a couple more rifles, pocket knives and miscellaneous detris was tossed. One single shotgun was tossed from the lead pickup out the passenger door window. All eyes were on the vehicles, fingers relaxing on triggers as the greenies seemingly gave in in the face of a superior force.

Dateline: Iowa Highway 210

Flashing red and blue lights behind her, Andrea came to a slow halt along the shoulder. She was unaware of any infraction she might have committed and wondered if it was a simple random check of vehicles due to the general situation in the country. She had not seen any other vehicles in the past 20 minutes. Perhaps the officer had been sitting in a lane watching and waiting.

Rolling her window down and grabbing her wallet from her shoulder bag she then sat quietly, license in hand, hands on the steering wheel. She ran through a mental checklist to see if there was anything not readily explainable about the appearance of her cargo that might tip the officer off. She had no idea what she would do if he wanted to perform a thorough search. Wait and pray, she decided. A quick Our Father then wait, hopefully without appearing too nervous. Finally she saw the cruiser's door open in her mirror and a tall burly looking officer step out and head her way, hand on his sidearm…

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

The lead armored vehicle stopped 100 yards short of the first building, a small frame house that had the appearance of being abandoned. Rotating the turret it then proceeded to fire an HE shell into the structure, almost totally destroying it. Even the basement would not have provided safe cover from the blast. The commander grinned when he saw the result. This was going to be fun! A couple more rounds as they passed through the town, the same from the 2nd unit, and the combination of small arms fire from the trucks and they would leave a smoldering ruin behind them.

Advancing up the road, the 2nd AMX following 200 feet behind the driver cut for the left-hand side of the road to allow for turret traverse and to provide room for the blast to dissipate before reaching them. The road through town was hardly more than 2 lanes wide in the small business district and they would have to reach the intersection in the middle before really cutting lose. The follow-up unit cut to the right so as to cover the opposite side better. Between them they began to spatter machine gun fire into buildings, seeking more to destroy than aiming at any actual targets. Ahead loomed the narrow confines of the center of town. They concentrated on the sheet metal buildings, ignoring the 2 and 3 story brick structures, wanting maximum devastation. They could level of couple of those once they made the square.

Atop one of the older structures darkened eyes squinted through an embrasure in the side of the brick wall that reached 3 feet beyond the roof all around the building. The actions of the enemy force were almost too predictable. Their bad luck that…

Dateline: PAS Convoy

At the town of What Cheer a checkpoint had been set up by the local Sheriff's Dept. Lon Greg had been sheriff since 1984. His goal was to beat Orville Graeve's record of 36 years consecutively in the same elected office, a record for Iowa, set back at the time of his retirement the same year Lon took office. Lon wasn't known for holding conservative views. He swayed whichever way the winds blew, but always towards his buddies in the Thornburg area who voted for him time after time. CCW? Not unless you were a golfing buddy. Drug raids? Only in certain parts of the county, others just never seemed to house labs, no matter what the residents there said. OWI? If you were an out-of-county driver.

Fortunately the men under Lon's command were not noted for thoroughness or professionalism. Driver's license and registration, a quick peak in the back of the vehicle for obvious contraband and on your way. It was more of a public relations stunt than any serious attempt to cooperate with the new edicts aimed at intercepting patriots.

Several cars and pickups were stopped ahead of Raymond and Charlotte. Behind them another pickup, a local. Then a housewife with a car full of kids on their way to the summer crafts program at the Opera House. Then Rick with his copy machines. Then the truck, with its telltale cargo were anyone to actually dig beyond the first 2 layers of feed grain sacks.

Ray and Charlotte were given twice the scrutiny of the vehicles in front of them, a couple questions about how long they planned to be away, where was the funeral to be held and a shallow attempt at condolences and they were waved through. The Wapello County plates were reason enough to hassle them in the eyes of the deputy. Ever since Earl Meyers had taken his leave of absence from the dept. back in "88 to run against Lon on a platform of fighting official corruption and incompetence, losing and finally forced to move south towards Ottumwa to escape the continuing harassment, Wapello County vehicles were unofficially targeted. One beer was enough to bring a charge of OWI, even if it was tossed out of court later, just for being from "down south."

"I sure hope Leadfoot doesn't have any problems," Raymond offered once they had passed beyond the checkpoint and driven up and over the hill and out of sight. "That's the last thing we need right now, for them to decide they need to actually search the truck."

Charlotte nodded in agreement and quickly composed a mental prayer for protection, for their driver truck driver friend, nicknamed Leadfoot because he'd broken a perfect record once by speeding 12 MPH over the posted limit after running behind on a delivery. She quickly added Rick to her prayer as well.

Pulled off in to a drive serving a small greenhouse on the edge of town they waited until they saw Rick pass by. He would proceed a little ways before he, too, pulled over to wait. Now all they had to do was wait for the truck…

Dateline: Mount Vernon, Ohio

No one later could or would say who started the fight. In actuality there was but a moment's hesitation and then all hell broke lose. Just a one of the regular plant security guards started bearing towards the hapless fellow singled out by the new "Oberfuhrer" - a derogatory term used in other parts of the country and now coming into general use whenever a plant was assimilated into the national trust - a 3" ID machine nut flew from the crowd below, propelled by an unseen hand, managing to knock silly one of the armed agents on the catwalk. As he fell his lack of proper trigger finger control showed all too well as he proceeded to spray the wall and roof overhead with a full magazine of hot 9mm, stitching a crazy quilt of holes and torn insulation.

Dateline: Chadron, Nebraska

One of the ex-clerks started the dance. Choosing the confusion of the moment while everyone was watching the slow disarming of the lead vehicles he took the opportunity to exit the bus he was riding via the rear emergency door. Armed with a FN-FAL he had "liberated from an earth-ravaging animal hater" in Oregon the previous year, whilst stealing the logger's dynamite stores, he ran in what he imagined to be a combat crouch towards the nearest ditch. In actuality he resembled nothing so much as a loping dwarf with a club foot but his apparent prowess impressed one of the more militant females on the same bus, and she quickly followed him, carrying a book bag full of pre-set dynamite bundles intended for targets of opportunity.

The movement attracted the attention of a couple of newly deputized locals, who had not seen the man preceding her. Standing up against the fading skyline he showed himself and yelled out at her: "You there missy! Drop the bag and get back on the bus!"

Dateline: Iowa Highway 210

"You're a ways from home, aren't you ma'am?" the Trooper offered by way of introduction, after first scanning her from a couple feet off with his flashlight. Noting the position of her hands and the driver's license in the one he relaxed, but never took his hand of his sidearm, Andrea noted, her mind strangely calm for the moment…

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

Just as the last truck was passing by the billboard that marked the entrance to the small residential section preceding the business district of Goodland a bowling ball was propelled into the windshield, striking half above the roofline. It failed to penetrate as a result but nevertheless the effect on those inside the cab and in the rear bed was nothing short of amazing. Propelled by igniting bottled propane piped into a piece of large metal pipe it made a poor man's cannon. Crude but effective. From the sound of the strike and the driver's startled loss of control of the vehicle, causing it to twist sharply into the left-hand ditch, it could not have done better had it gone straight through the center of the windshield. Bodies started spilling out the rear as the truck turned over onto its right side…

Dateline: PAS Convoy

There was the sound of a gunshot, then another and another in quick succession. A moment of silence, then one more pistol shot, then a long minute of silence. A shotgun blast roared up the street, followed by the sound of a diesel engine straining through too low a gear for too long. Just as it seemed the transmission might give in the shift came, once more high rev then another and another shift and the feed truck pounded over the top of the hill. A siren started to wail back in town and grew as the car came after the truck, the driver popping over the hill in a fishtail as he concentrated more on catching up than controlling his path.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter IX - Part I

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

Clarence Emmons, the owner of the St. Olaf Lumber & Hardware, Inc., looked up as the door opened from the street and a teen-age boy of perhaps 14 slipped in. There was nothing remarkable about him save that he seemed a bit winded as from an exertion. A casual onlooker would have guessed that he'd ran down the street from wherever he was sent to grab some small item for a project in progress. His was a project all right, but it had nothing to do with home repair or mechanics.

Pritchart, the local handyman, barely turned his head over his shoulder as he leaned on the counter, engaged in conversation with Clarence.

"Hiya, Davey."

Then, turning back to his conversation from before he continued as if there had been no interruption.

"So's ya see, she's all fired up about them onion roll pieces. Won't take nothing else. Got to be period, she says. Won't do to have something else. Now, ah told her they'd hafta be a special order, and with the war and all it might be a fair spell afore they git here, but she don't care none." He finished by hawking as if to spit a wad of chew or a plug of mucous out of his mouth. Whatever it was he apparently swallowed for nothing was forthcoming. He continued to lean there on the counter, head canted slightly sideways, waiting for Clarence to respond.

"Well, Len, if she wants to pay for the onion dome pieces and doesn't mind waiting I'm sure I can get some. Probably have to have them custom made though. I don't recall seeing them listed in any catalogs for years now. Most people just choose something similar - usually a ball type of piece - and let it go at that."

Pritchart just harrumphed. Then straightening himself upright he stuck his burly hands into overall pockets and stood for a moment, thinking. "Got any idea what they'd cost to have 'em made? She wants cherry, like I say."

Bringing one hand to his face Clarence took a moment to rub one eye while he considered the question. "If I were to ask the Amish folks over to Oelwein I imagine they could turn some out. As scarce as cherry is anymore I'd say she's looking at around $20.00 each. That would make it, oh, $960.00 total. On top of the molding pieces, that is. There's another $1.400.00 or more. But if she wants to spend that kind of money for that old house I ain't one to complain. I can use the business and I'm sure she's good for it."

"Whal, she is a' that, I'll give 'er that much. I told her I get paid by the week, every week, for a job like this. Nice fancy looking check, clears the bank every time. Got no complaints there. Anyhow, ah'll be going now, seeing's how you got another customer," he said with a knowing smile. "Davey, don't you be bothering yer granddad none while he's got work to do for me," he said, turning around and starting towards the door with his characteristic shuffling gait.

Davey smiled in familiarity. "Don't worry, Mr. Pritchart, I won't keep him long."

Nodding at that the handyman pulled a hand from the familiar pocket and reached for the old-fashioned ornate door pull. Without another word he opened the door and stepped through it, letting it slam with a thud, propelled by a cast iron pneumatic closer.


Dateline: near Maxwell, Iowa, Highway 210


"Yes, sir, I am. I was on my way there, actually." Andrea addressed the officer's question as she sat, hands still on the steering wheel, license held between ring and middle finger of her left hand where it could be plainly seen. Reassuring. Cooperative.

"Could you turn your dome light on for me, please? Then may I have that license there, and while you are at it I need to see your registration and proof of insurance," the officer, a State Trooper, said. When she complied with his request to turn the dome light on he tucked the flashlight into the holder on his belt, his other hand never leaving the butt of his pistol.

As she handed over the license he reached for it with his now free left hand, taking the document and tucking it into his breast pocket, then remaining there, waiting, while she reached up to the sun visor and pulled the plastic clip-on case off with the other items. As she did so the Trooper reached up and pinched a corded switch attached to his epaulet. What looked like a standard radio mic switch was actually the cord that activated a small 3-bulb LED light hanging horizontally below his nametag.

She handed the requested papers over as before, and they were received in like manner. He held them so as to read them in the soft light, keeping his strong side hand as before. He merely looked them over carefully, then handed them back. She took them and replaced them as before, then returned her hands to the steering wheel, conscious of his continuing scrutiny.

Then, pulling her DL from the breast pocket he subjected it to the same scrutiny. A frown seemed the crease his face. He replaced the DL in the pocket, then retrieved his Mag Light and flashed it through the side windows at the contents of the rear of her Blazer.

"Ma'am," he said, "If I were to inspect the contents of this vehicle, what might I find?" The question hung in the stillness of the night air.

Dateline: Patriot Aid Station - Virginia

The fighting had been intense, and showed no sign of ending any time soon. Literally dozens had been wounded, filling the PAS with more casualties than they could handle at one time. Some, obviously, were going to require prolonged recuperation, perhaps months. One man had undergone a hasty bowel resection as the result of taking shrapnel through the midsection. He was fortunate - he'd only lost a couple feet of his small intestine. No need for an ostomy, but he'd require a specialized diet for several weeks until his wounds had healed sufficiently to allow a return to a normal lifestyle. During that time he'd require careful monitoring for signs of necrosis to the resected bowel. His former home was no more, having been leveled in fighting nearly a month previously towards the Atlantic coastal area. He was the first to make "The List."

Next was Tyler, husband of Traci and father of Briana and Cody. The whereabouts of his family was unknown. They'd last been known to be heading to Ohio to stay with her parents. That was a month ago and he'd not heard a work since. His occupation had been that of a high-end programmer with a Fortune 500 company. Losing 2 fingers on his left hand to the same round that had splintered the stock of the rifle he was carrying meant, to his mind, the end of his ability to support his family. The family he no longer knew whether they existed or not.

That the same round had also cost him his spleen was secondary in his mind. He'd recover minus that, but the deep depression that set about as a result of his circuitous thoughts threatened his convalescence. How do I support my family now? Do I have a family "to" support? If I don't why even bothering to live? But if I don't live, how will I ever know of they made it through safely? His was going to be an especially challenging case. List member #2.

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

The Royal Guard officer was beside himself with rage. His forces had been split, he'd suffered casualties of both men and machines, and as yet he'd not had a chance to strike back. It was as if he was fighting ghosts. Ghosts that faded into the gathering twilight without a sound, without a trace. His pursuing patrol had returned empty handed. They had never caught sight of even one bandit. His armor was on the far side of town, both units damaged but apparently able to fight, albeit in a reduced capacity. His lead infantry element was waiting not 150 meters from the edge of town, forming up for the orders to begin their approach. Their growing nervousness was evident.

Inside the town itself the residents who refused to heed the advice of the rebels cowered in cellars. At least one fellow nursed a bruised face that was only a prelude to the hangover he was going to experience as a result of his earlier drinking, combined with his renewed efforts since. The old artillery piece was now abandoned, the streets quiet in anticipation of what was sure to come. A few of the remaining residents took the lull in activities as an indication that the conflict was over, and peered out cautiously. A couple rounds deliberately sent well wide of their positions quickly relieved them of such notions, sending them scurrying for cover once more. On the shadowed rooftop a darkened face muttered in understanding.

"Fools."

They'd been warned; there was no claiming otherwise. That some had chosen to ignore the warning only made his job more difficult. The thoughts of otherwise innocent blood being spilled as a result of his group's actions weighed heavily on his mind. So far, there were no friendly casualties. He hoped he could keep it that way.

Dateline: Hazelton, Iowa Amish Community

A very minor rebellion of sorts was taking place within the close knit community of farms. Three young ladies were explaining to their respective parents that it was their wish to volunteer their services to the English lady's little hospital. After all, was it not the Christian thing to do, to care for the sick and infirm? The lady could not do everything herself. While she nursed there would be cooking and cleaning required and perhaps simple tasks such as changing bandages could be delegated to the girls also?

When the parents pointed out that the patients of this little hospital would be almost entirely men from the Outside each girl quickly pointed out that they - the community - had placed their trust in the English lady, and that they would have each other, there being 3 young women after all seeking to go, for company. They would not be alone in either the physical or the spiritual sense.

In each case permission was granted after consultation between husband and wife, father and mother. It was after all charitable work they sought to do, and it may be that not only resistance fighters but civilians too would need cared for. The area was very remote from the reported fighting, and rural, so that there would be no city influences which an impressionable young mind might succumb to. Each girl was given the blessings of her parents that evening. They would depart the next day.

As they lay in their beds that night each of the young women shared common thoughts with the others. There was Ruth, 17 years of age. Skilled as a cook, seamstress and housekeeper she was by nature quietly reserved. She was frightened by the news of the conflicts around the country, what relatively little reached them. But she was also firmly resolved to allow God to decide the issues in His way, and to play her part in caring for His children.

Sara was the oldest at 19 years of age. Hers had been a plan to enter a local community college in the Fall in their nursing program. After graduating she intended to return to her home community to serve as the community nurse and midwife. While traditional medicine as such was not shunned it was nevertheless not resorted to unless needed, and often represented a financial hardship.

No one in the Hazelton settlement was formally trained since Beulah had left several years earlier to join a new community in southern Iowa, where her skills as a midwife were greatly needed. The area she served did not have local hospitals in two adjoining counties, straddling as it did the Iowa/Missouri line. Most of the inhabitants had come from the Jamesport area of Missouri, were younger, and a midwife was often called upon as a result. Sara had been blessed with a visit to her great-aunt 2 years previously, and impressed with her work had resolved to follow in her footsteps. Now it seemed that her formal training would have to be put on hold, though her services would not.

Finally, there was Jeanette, also 17 years of age. She was the active one of the little group, the one with a keen mind, nimble hands, and hopes for James, son of Albert and Charlotte 3 sections over. Lately he had taken to shy glances at her, to the amusement of some of the older couples who remembered how their own courtship's had started years before. Full of energy and life, Jeanette struggled hard to avoid the pride that welled up within her at the thought of being able to serve. Pride was said to be one of the deadly sins, after all. Strange how the thought of service in the little hospital seemed to engender both humbleness and pride within her.

Dateline: Iowa, PAS Supply Convoy

The convoy was hidden in an abandoned farmstead outside of Van Horne. It was now nearly mid-afternoon and some of the trickiest navigation lay ahead. Since the incident back in What Cheer there was doubtless a widespread hunt going on for the truck. Reports from a radio geek scanning the airwaves claimed that roadblocks had been erected just behind them after they had crossed over I-80 on a country road overpass. Had they elected to chance a main road they would have been caught by now. The incident was being blown out of proportion, with news reports that the deputy had been "seriously" wounded and another was missing and presumed to have been likewise injured or even killed. For whatever reason the news that the deputy had been found, trussed up in the back of his car after being humanely cared for, had not yet been released to the news media. The anonymous call placed after 2:00 PM directing the searchers to him allowed the intrepid convoy time to make a hasty retreat out of the area. There was only the description of the truck and its driver so far.

Leadfoot was bearing the pain of his injuries well. He dismissed any discussion about replacing him. "I can still drive," he'd tell them. "Just figure out a safe route and let's all hit the road afore they find us. We lose this load and we's sunk."

Assuming the back roads would be the least patrolled, and thankful that in Iowa there were rural roads as close as every mile they elected to make for Brandon, Iowa, where they would attempt to cross I-380 after sending the wagon ahead to scout the route for possible roadblocks or checkpoints. Thus decided they again pulled out, leaving a couple miles between vehicles in order not to all get caught at once. Their erstwhile traveling salesman took the lead with Charlotte and her brother taking the tail end, the truck between them. Small discrete personal communication units set in scramble provided commo between them.

Meantime, a call was being made from a central communications point from one prepaid cellular phone to another, the latter in northeast Iowa.

Dateline: Virginia

The fighting continued much as it had before. Small skirmishes between Rebel forces and government troops - those that sided with the new government, that is. Most often they were lead by foreign "advisors" of Middle Eastern descent. Actual Royal Guard force contacts were rare. Instead they seemed content to allow the "loyalist" forces, as the former US armed forces still loyal the new government were called, to bear the brunt of the skirmishing actions.

Desertion had been rampant for a time. Most times it was older GI's, Marines and Air Force personnel that went over the wire. For a time it seemed there was no end of replacements. Most often these were Guard and Reservists under the age of 30, the so-called "new generation" that cared not who was in charge so long as they were paid, fed, housed and the standards of conduct were few. The Constitution to them was an archaic document, old and of no meaning in their view. Or so they had been told for years.

Then to, the use of weapons of mass destruction on a few bases that refused to acknowledge the new regime did have a way of persuading one that perhaps minding your own business was the way to get by. The new government promised bonuses for successful suppression of the "misguided rebel forces, lead by promoters of the obsolete capitalist system." There was medicine available also, and the vaccines.

Oh yes, the all-important vaccines. Even the newest, rawest recruit had heard of the smallpox epidemics of the mid-10's, as the first decade of the 21st century was referred to. Anyone born before 2000 knew of them, and a few bore the scars that showed them to be survivors. Though crippled by the conflicts the new government nevertheless continued to pour out propaganda at every opportunity. Active jamming of radio stations from west of the Mississippi and the hold-out Southern states kept the "rabid opponents of truth" from poisoning the minds of the residents of the occupied states. Instead, official reports of a new scourges in the west were fed through the few approved news agencies. Only those with short wave radios were able to glean accurate, uncensored information, and knew the reports to be false.

The reports stated that smallpox was again ravaging the western states, along with a natural outbreak of Tularemia and Sin Nombre, or as it was more commonly called, Hanta Virus. Casualties were reported to number thousands, and the lack of response by the "uncaring advocates of the old system, the remnants of the former oppressive capitalist hoodlums" was expected to cause the pandemics to affect hundreds of thousands, perhaps even several million.

It was deceit on a grand scale, and it worked. Civilians lined up by the thousands to receive their "newly developed" vaccinations. In reality they were benign concoctions such as injectable vitamins. But the new government promised they would save them from the ravages of the western plagues. Relocate in so-called safe areas - those areas 100% under control of the Royal Guard and affiliated forces - and receive your vaccinations, and be protected from the "despicable, cowardly rebels who would despoil the fruitful lands of the New Republic." It worked for the civilians, and it worked to contain the troops. It only served to prove the old assertion from another era that if "You repeat a lie often enough soon it will be believed."
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chaper IX - Part II

Dateline: Rolls-Royce Plant, Mount Vernon, OH

The battle inside the plant continued, neither side gaining much ground, the mounting casualties so far favoring the government forces. It was to be expected. They were, after all, armed. Aside from the one worker who carried a revolver as a matter of personal habit, the only weapons the workers had were what objects they could lay hand to, or weapons they managed to relieve from the plant guards and the one agent so far taken out. The others, however, were not themselves long for the fight.

Outside "Mother" Maggie was giving the Guard and local police personnel her own version of what for. To say that she had their attention would be an understatement.

"Do any of you boys care in the slightest whether what you are doing here is right? I don't mean legal, I mean right. You all know as well as I do that the laws have been changed willy-nilly since the assassinations. Only a fool would say they have been changed for the better."

The Guardsmen cast sideways glances at each other, beginning to shift uneasily on their feet. They were supposed to block vehicles seeking entry without orders. No one said anything about what to do if confronted by an irate plant worker old enough to be mother to any one of them, and grandmother to a few.

One of the local officers stepped forward, intending to put an end to the uneasy confrontation. Putting an arm out in front of the sergeant in a gesture intended to dismiss him from Maggie's attention, he made his first mistake.

"Ma'am, I suggest you just settle down before we have to arrest you for interfering with a lawful process." The officer was young, having served on the force for 3 years since graduating junior college with an Associate of Science degree in Criminology and then entering the Academy. He was a member of the growing breed of officer who disdained civilians and valued a show of force over negotiation. His type was not popular with senior members of the force, but unfortunately, made up the majority any more.

Maggie didn't have an inch of backdown in her. She glared at the officer, her look daring him to just try and arrest her. Her gaze wavered not in the least, her eyes unblinking. The officer tried to match her stare but after a few moments found himself the first to blink. A flush came to his face as he realized he was being defied not only in front of his fellow officers but also the Guardsmen. His pride simply would not allow it. His personal code of conduct said that he could not allow anyone to question his authority. A more seasoned officer would have noticed the warning signs, but not he. His goal was to be assigned to the department's Special Operations Detachment. His admiration for the way they took charge of any situation upon their arrival, no matter if even a Lieutenant was on the scene, colored his views of their tactics. Decisive force! That was the way to handle these people! Forget negotiation or controlled response. You had to show them right from the start that you were in charge and they were to obey you without question.

Some of the other officers - there were six of them in all - began to step forward in an apparent show of strength. The senior man, a sergeant, held back, watching carefully, considering his options. If he ordered the young buck to stand down he risked losing control of the situation. On the other hand if he waded in he could escalate the situation immediately. There was no clear line of authority here. They were merely requested to assist the NRRT people, and do as they were told. As to which group had the actual authority here - the police officers or the Guardsmen - was questionable.

Dateline: Saint Olaf, Iowa

The door to the Chic Boutique opened and admitted Len Pritchart. He paused briefly as he entered the faux ritzy shop as he always did, steeling himself for what he knew was going to come. Fortunately the proprietor - one Faye Ryan-Terrell - was momentarily in the back and didn't see him shake his head at the store's contents. Faye, or Ms. Ryan-Terrell as she often insisted people address her, was of that breed once called a free thinker in another era, and most recently a liberal. Even that failed to describe her adequately. Quasi-liberal perhaps? She virtually defied description in the experience of the locals.

Her shop, a decade ago a tearoom until the business failed and the building sat empty for several years, and before that a dress shop for several decades, was a crazy-quilt mixture of ultra-modern and period styles. Between the frappucino/Italian ice bar and the display of, well, Len wasn't about to even begin to think what THOSE might be used for (they were hair stylers of a type not seen since the late '60's/early "70's and best left to the annuls of obscurity) there was the requisite pseudo-pine pie cabinet filled with aroma-therapy scents and tools. A large bookcase was filled with quasi-spiritual books touting the latest New Age fads. When once asked by a fellow parishioner of the Methodist congregation if she "believed in that sort of thing" she merely laughed gaily and responded, "Oh darling, they do sell so well, and after all I "am" a businesswoman."

The décor itself was a mix of original pressed tin ceiling with garishly colored ceiling fans strewn with items ranging from crystalline rocks to beads, from brand-name (and expensive by any account) outdoor sports hats for women to small imitation Eastern Orthodox religious icons that had become a fad in certain circles. They were more a case of form defining art than art defining form and actually bore little resemblance to the icons that had originally inspired their creation.

Len was brought out of his private musing by the appearance of Faye, err, rather Ms. Ryan-Terrell through the beaded curtain that separated the front of the shop from the back. She had a way of making an entrance, he had to admit. The beads hung so thickly - several strands deep - that the first thing you saw was her seemingly detached head with its nearly masculine long crew cut style poke through.

"Oh, my, I have a visitor." She made the rest of form present itself from behind the barrier and then stood in the doorway, framed by the long curtain of red and black beads. Though physically an attractive woman, standing 5'8" in her stockings and fit as a result of hours of yoga and jogging, she had a certain ugliness about her that went beyond her choice of hairstyles. People she regarded as subservient to her were met with a wry smirk, framed by ears with numerous piercings and settled under eyes darkened by shadowing.

"I presume you have a report for me on your progress?" She stood with arms crossed, almost like a schoolteacher confronting a recalcitrant pupil.

Remembering his manners Len doffed his painter's cap and held it to his side. "Yes, ma'am. I just came from the lumberyard 'bout them onion roll pieces you wuz wanting. Clarence, umm, Mr. Emmons, says he can look for them but don't hold much hope a finding them. Says like as not he'll have to get 'em custom turned. Going to cost some like I told ya before. But he can get 'em he says."

Faye's eyes narrowed slightly at this news. "I see. Well, you did tell me that, yes. Did he also happen to say what he thought they might cost while he imparted this bit of news?"

"Yes'm he did. Says they like to set you back some $20.00 each. That'd be around a grand for all you'd need, plus the molding pieces. All told yer gonna have about $2,500 wrapped up in them winders and doorways for the moldings and such." He paused for a moment before continuing. "Thought you might wanna chance to reconsider afore you spent that much cash and all. That's on topa my wages of course, but that's just puttin' 'em up, since I done got the old stuff removed already and that'll be included in this week's work bill."

"I see. Well." She arched her neck forward then turned her head to the side for a moment, as if mentally calculating the expense. "I did specify that I wanted everything to be as authentic as possible. I suppose," she spat the word out, "that considering the current state of affairs with the country that prices may have increased. Nevertheless I am determined to see this project through. Order the pieces and get them installed without haste. You will of course remit to me the statement from the lumberyard as always and I will reimburse you for the expense in addition to your labors."

"Yes, ma'am, I'll do jest that alright. You have yourself a good day now and I'll be getting' back to yer house and aworkin' on stainin' them doors." With that Len placed his cap back on his head as if to conclude the conversation, then waited for his dismissal.

"Yes, you do that. Please make sure the stain goes on evenly. I want a nice glossy finish when the varnish goes on afterwards."

With that she turned on her heel and re-entered the back room. Len for his part then made his exit through the shop door, the Tibetan temple chime ringing as the door bumped it. He waited until he was out of the store and down the sidewalk out of sight before blowing out his cheeks in exasperation. "Whoo-ee. The things I gotta do for the cause."

Dateline: Patriot Aid Station - Virginia

Darnell, a rugged former high steel worker from Pittsburgh, and of late attached to a home militia unit composed of men of similar backgrounds. Wounded in fierce fighting in the Big Pocono State Park when the camp of a short battalion of mixed irregulars and loyalist US Army troops came under attack by a reinforced regiment of Royal Guardsmen. They had given almost as good as they got but in the end sheer weight of numbers told against them and they fought a fighting retreat through the tree-covered hills and ravines. They were hampered by the lack of area weapons and had lost a large store of small arms munitions when a lucky RPG round found its way into the bermed ammo dump.

Darnell had lost a large chunk of his right calf muscle, more properly identified as the lateral head of the gastrocnemius. Related to this was extensive tearing of the outside lateral muscle there as well, the peroneous longus, which extended from near the knee down towards the ankle. A chance round had caught him as he turned to retreat to another point of safety. Deformed as it passed through the outside aspect of a tree nearby the somewhat flattened bullet had torn its way through rather than piercing muscle that otherwise offered only modest resistance. He would face months of rehabilitation before he would again walk without supporting appliances. His leg would ever after ache but he would walk. He was to be #3 on The List.

Diane was #4. Though actually a non-combatant Diane had volunteered as a forward aid medic, having once served as an EMT-Basic with a small town volunteer squad several years before. She had been hit by shrapnel from a close explosion - never determined as to what it was though believed to be a mortar round. She had been the only survivor of a small cluster of wounded gathered in a sheltered depression during the same battle that had wounded Darnell. Her back had been turned towards the force of the explosion. The Guardsman medic come militiaman had absorbed the bulk of the force with his body, however unwittingly.

Her wounds consisted of a fractured left shoulder blade with resultant severe bruising of the area, and multiple punctures to her back and the legs. Her kneeling position at the time of the blast had likely saved her additional wounds. Had she been standing more of her body would have been exposed. She would require transport laying on her right side, propped up with pillows. Her diagnosis also involved a modest pulmonary contusion to the upper lobe of her left lung. The aid station surgeon told her she was fortunate, though it may not seem that way at the time. Had she been turned 180 degrees the force of whatever had struck her may well have caused much worse, perhaps even fatal, damage without the scapula to protect her.


Dateline: Des Moines, Iowa

Things were hopping in the Office of Media Relations. Bob DeNiro, Media Relations Secretary for the Governor, was busily dictating a press release, to follow on the heels of the Executive Policy decision that had just been released from the Governor's Office. The two were not mutually exclusive, but rather worked with a certain synergy.

After consulting with his various department and bureau directors and chiefs Governor Balsack had decided that decisive action was called for. There were reports of Royal Guard and Loyalist forces moving towards southeast Iowa for what promised to be quite a battle. The reports from the debacle at the State Fairgrounds gun show had been troubling enough but now there were increasing reports of desertions from Guard units, resignations from hospitals, problems with petroleum supply lines coming into Iowa, and the press was waging a campaign that could only be described as schizophrenic. The larger newspapers were actively supportive of the changes in Washington and called upon the Governor to speak out in full support, lest his heretofore refusal to take sides with the issue cast doubt upon his loyalties. Ever since the Patriot Acts of 2003 loyalty was a commodity that could be and frequently was actively questioned.

An active underground had arisen in several areas of the state. People alternatively identified as survivalists, white supremacists, foreign agents, militia members, radical right-wing extremists and worse were reported to be gathering in force, rallying around shadowy leaders who often as not were vocal but otherwise outside the public eye. Outside, that is, save for internet sites, clandestine newspapers, local access cablevision broadcasts and secretive town meetings which it seemed most elements of law enforcement, and virtually all media representatives, were decidedly not welcome to.

Further reports indicated that the farming economy was faltering, and the crops were only a couple months in the fields in many cases. Subsidy checks were rumored to not be forthcoming this year and the vociferous complaints of those who had large segments of land placed in fallow as per their subsidy agreements were becoming a voice that could not be ignored.

Likewise a large insurance company, IMC, which at its heyday employed some 5,800 workers in downtown Des Moines, was busy laying off employees as fast as they could cut the pink slips. They had experienced massive losses in the eastern seaboard war zone. From the latest report Governor Balsack did not expect the company to remain viable another month. The usual disqualifiers for losses due to acts of war, aggression or civil disturbance meant that the market for insurance - any insurance -was falling rapidly.

The Iowa Army National Guard was reporting only 67% strength. Lack of popularity with young people had already weakened them to below 82% of authorized strength before the assassinations. The failures to report for active duty summons, and the outright desertions, had further weakened the forces. One wing of the Air Guard had been on overseas assignment when the balloon went up, and had been unable to return. They sat languishing on an overseas base in the near Middle East. Without proper support they were unable to ferry back to the US proper, much less Iowa. Thus the remaining forces consisted of but 7 active combat aircraft and 1 more requiring replacement of an engine that didn't seem to be forthcoming any time soon.

In the Governor's favor was the order last month from Washington that all combat aircraft under Guard commands were to be locked down awaiting orders for activation, though in case of "open, active rebellion against the law-abiding people of the various states not otherwise engaged in rebellion against the legitimate coalition government under the leadership of President Boxer" the governor could, at his discretion, "activate the units in a limited capacity", whatever that meant.

Thus, with seeming reluctance though actual secret relief the Governor signed the Policy that had been drafted by his advisors. It effectively placed control of all city police agencies under the Dept of Public Safety "for the duration of the grave emergency facing the citizens of our beloved State of Iowa." County Sheriff's departments were actively encouraged to "voluntarily" place themselves likewise under control of same, though the issue of whether they could legally be forced to comply seemed still up in the air. A special session of the Legislature was being called for to pass emergency bills that would allow this and other measures to be taken. Many of the Mid-western states lagged behind both the east and west coast states in authorizing broader emergency powers even in the wake of the smallpox epidemics of a few years past.

There were other measures also called for, perhaps the least popular was the one calling for a "Uniform State Emergency Command" that would have recruited all existing chartered fire departments for activation under the guise of "emergency relief and rehabilitation" under the aegis of the State Fire Marshall's Office. In plain terms the duties of Iowa's firefighters would have included supplementing local law enforcement officials "in such capacity as which they may henceforth be directed to act." As it turned out in only 3 communities with populations under 8,000 complied. Many others saw their rolls emptied of members, though amazingly enough the apparatus rolled whenever an alarm was sounded. But other than fire and rescue calls all other summons were ignored and in an alarming number of instances stations were locked with no one admitting to having any knowledge of where they keys were to be found.

The citizens of Iowa, as elsewhere, after getting over their shock at the assassinations of the President and others, and then the introduction of "peacekeepers" from some of the same countries they as a nation had been forced to suppress less than 10 years before when their thirst for the spread of totalitarian regimes threatened the stability and safety of the western world, were gathering their wits about them and beginning to fight back. Though far from universal in their views about the new government and its actions there were enough. As we shall soon see.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter IX - Part III

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

"Grampa, mom says to tell you there's a message and you need to get in touch with Mr. Red Fox. Something about some parts that be missing from the order."

Clarence frowned deeply at the message delivered by his grandson in semi-breathless fashion. "Missing parts, hmm? Well I'll be doggoned. Guess I'll have to look into that right away. You run on home an' tell yer mother I'll get on it right away. And tell her thanks, too. I don't want anything going wrong with that delivery." He gave his grandson a knowing look, which was likewise returned.

"Thanks, Grampa, I'll tell her. Let me know if there is anything I can do. You know I'm old enough now."

"Hush yerself, Davey. You know the rules. Nothing said outside the house or anywhere you don't know to be 100% secure. And since you just arrived you have no idea if anyone else is about in the back room or not."

Assuming a serious downcast look Davey replied, "Yessir. Sorry sir. I won't forget again."

"I know you won't, Davey. But a gentle reminder every now and again - for all of us - can't hurt. Your message was harmless as delivered, just as it was supposed to be in case anyone outside the group were to overhear it. But beyond that anything said might catch the ear of someone who doesn't have a need to know."

"Okay, Grampa. I'll go tell mom now. No more slip-ups on my part." With that he grinned and gave his grandfather a mock salute and turned and bolted out the door before his amused grandfather could respond.

"Dammit to hell!" he exploded, glad at the same time no one else was around to hear him. Bad enough he'd owe the cuss bucket another $2 for the double expletive. Worse was the news the message entailed. There'd been problems already with the aid station and it wasn't even in operation yet. Meantime there were patients due to arrive within 24 hours.

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

Royal Guards Captain Hakar was determined to push through the small town and continue his march towards the Ammunition Plant. There was more at stake than simply the capture of the plant itself. There was also the matter of his reputation. Were he to fail he may as well die in the forthcoming battle for all it would be worth to him to return empty-handed. His superiors did not suffer failure well. A mere officer commanding regular troops might be expected to fail from time to time but a Royal Guard officer was supposed to represent the best of the elite. Never mind that his relatives in higher up positions would never forgive him were he to fail to not only take his assigned objective but also to fail to reach it.

Shaking aside his musings he began to bark orders in Behdini, leaving it to his underlings to follow it up with English for the non-Arabic troops assigned to his column. The men quickly formed a battle line, checked weapons to make sure they were ready, and awaited the next order.

From the rooftop a pair of seasoned eyes watched through low-light glasses. The enemy apparently intended to assault the town on foot now rather than ride in on the trucks. That would mean house-to-house searches in all likelihood. Damn it! He'd have to get the remaining civilians out of town in double quick order. With the two AMX'es on the other side of town, albeit crippled that meant that route was out of the question.

He sighed deeply within himself. Well, best to get to it. In 10 minutes the town would be swarming with troops eager to shoot first and worry later - if at all - whether or not their targets were hostiles or civilians. Not, he added to himself, that in their eyes it was going to matter.

Keying up the slim boom mic that connected to a small personal communicator he gave a quiet, barely audible order. "Joker to Stitch." A quiet breaking of squelch came through the earbud. "Break the civis out to north. Prod 'em if need be but move 'em pronto. Tangos due inside 10." Another squelch break, then another acknowledged receiving and understanding. Below, in the gathering dimness two shadows detached themselves from an alley across the square and made for the house closest to the threat known to harbor civilians.

Dateline: Near Maxwell, Iowa, Highway 210

"That is a very odd question. Can you be more specific?" Andrea gave him her best innocently puzzled look, hoping it appeared sincere.

"Ma'am, if I were to ask you to open your vehicle would I find any contraband items such as drugs or weapons? Simple question and I'd like a straight answer."

"Officer, as you can see for yourself, I am carrying a load of household goods from my parents' farm back to my residence in Ottumwa. I have furniture, cleaning supplies, wall hangings and other things, but there are no rifles or herbs, decorative or otherwise, in here. If you wish to call for a drug dog to sniff around here you may do so." Then, as an apparent afterthought, she added, "Likewise the only cigarettes I have are a partial pack on the dash here and another full pack in my purse, tax stamps and all."

The Trooper peered once again through the side windows with his Mag-Lite, pausing over some of the objects contained within the Blazer. He saw nothing other than what was claimed to be present within. Apparently satisfied he switched off the flashlight and returned it to the ring holder on his belt.

"You have quite a load in there, ma'am." His face was passive, his stance barely stooped as he ducked just enough to see inside the Blazer past Andrea.

"Yes, it is. I had a lot of stuff stored at my parent's. They live in Schleswig so I don't get over there very often. With all the problems I though maybe I better grab what I might need for the next while since I was there for a quick visit. With the price of gas any more I doubt I'll be making the drive again for a while."

The Trooper nodded at this, and straightening up reached into his pocket and withdrew her DL. Handing it to her he asked, "What route do you intend to take from here?"

Andrea paused as if trying to remember. "According to the map I go to US 65 then down until I meet 177. I take that down until I meet up with 163. I'm trying to skirt the larger towns. I've been told there can be problems around them."

Relaxing now the Trooper replied. "Yes, ma'am, that's the truth. I'd say that you'd do well to avoid Des Moines and the like after dark if you aren't that familiar with the streets." Andrea nodded in agreement.

"You have plenty of gas to make it home?"

"Yes sir, I filled up before I left Schleswig so I'm set to make it without filling up. No point taking any chances."

"Very good, ma'am. You drive carefully now and stay awake. If you need to rest awhile try to get into a truck stop and park close to the building. Most of them have security details these days so you shouldn't be bothered. "

With that he turned and walked back to his patrol vehicle, leaving Andrea almost quaking inside at the thought of what might have transpired had he insisted on searching her vehicle.

Dateline: USA

Across the country chaos was beginning to reign. The Governor of California had moved to restrict liberties to a degree that was unheard of even for California. Firearms sales had been banned until further notice. Rationing of electricity was again the norm as with the early years of the millennium. Hardest hit were several industries that produced essential products. Not because they had been targeted per se by increased rationing but rather because the interruptions in the production lines had exponential effects. Some processes required continuous attention from start until finish., including pharmaceuticals. The long-term effects would be telling. Attempts to secure on-site power generation units failed in some instances when such units were deemed "wasteful and inefficient" by the regulatory agencies, while in other instances, such as certain agricultural concerns, they were approved, though in sporadic fashion. A canning factory might get approval while a company that depended on large volume coolers might be told to make work-arounds. Within months the economic fallout would be telling.

Refineries saw production levels plummet thanks to the efforts of the Green Lobby, who claimed that the "greedy capitalists" were using the crisis to ignore environmental concerns and produce with pollution safeties disabled. Suddenly, and hour and half commute to work really was a concern for those who maintained homes in outlying areas of the southern foothills. A few enterprising souls had caused small scale cottage industries to spring up again as their answer to increasing layoffs and soaring fuel costs. Produce prices were forecast to be very inexpensive in the coming months as producers sought to unload locally what they could no longer transport eastward.

Talk radio was still having a heyday, though there were fewer and fewer broadcasters on the air in some areas. Labeled "seditious" by the newly reformed national government they were targeted for shutdown by loss of broadcasting licenses, and in a few cases the announcers were simply jailed without charge.

Television was harder hit, especially 24-hour news stations. New rules of media access prevented them from entering contested areas of the country save under special escorts. They found themselves limited to official press releases and video bites put on by spokespersons whose information was at best slanted, even to the eyes and ears of heretofore-liberal reporters. Most accepted the new changes as inevitable for the duration, but a few had their eyes opened and began to question the general media agenda. When prohibitions against questioning the new governmental policies were raised on camera the recalcitrant reporter likely-as-not found themselves officially banned from further press conferences.

The people themselves were polarizing as a country. The demarcations between those who valued individual initiative and freedom of expression and action versus those who trusted in their officials make the right choices for them and to provide for their welfare widened. Both pro and anti-government protests began in various cities. More than a few times they devolved into mass riots between the factions. Police forces were strained and healthcare systems inundated during a time when routine delivery of supplies and medications was beginning to be seriously affected.

In Tennessee a senior officer of the National Guard issued orders to lock down the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Federal officials at first applauded this initiative, until they found out that they, too, had been banned from entry. Orders from the Governor's office had been studiously ignored, and following orders to other units to affect the arrest of the rogue officers and troops were not acted upon. For all purposes the resources of ORNL had been placed in enforced isolation. Rumors abounded as a result, that the experimental reactors were either being shut down for safety or turned over to production of wartime materials. Truthfully, no one outside the reserve truly knew.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

The group that Charlotte, Raymond, and the others belonged to was a scene a furious if quiet activity. News had spread amongst selected members that the supply convoy had run into problems early on. The communications people were the most active, sending out calls and messages to various contacts across the state and beyond. Their network was more of a grapevine but it was secure and it worked. Casual calls, that if overheard, would have aroused no suspicion to the mind of an eavesdropper, alerted others that action might be required. Arrangements were made and hasty plans formalized.

Others were assigned to make purchases of food and other supplies in case for some reason the convoy didn't make it through. Even if it did there was the chance that rumored forthcoming travel restrictions might make things tough. In order to not draw attention several shoppers were used and stores up to an hour away were targeted for purchases that appeared to be for a large family, but shy of what might appear to be "stocking up", save for sale items of course. To add to the cover coupons were quickly clipped from Shoppers and other newspapers and circulars. After all, a savvy shopper would want to save every penny they could, especially with the economy beginning a downward spiral as seemed to be inevitable. This would be the second recession in 10 years, and the country barely recovered from the last one.

Hy-Vee food stores in Ottumwa, Oskaloosa, Knoxville and Pella, Fairfield and Bloomfield were hit first as they happened to be running a multi-page ad circular. In each town 2-3 shoppers would hit the store over a period of an hour and a half, each leaving with a bulging cart though the items were varied other than those obviously on sale. As cover bread, milk, eggs and some fresh meat were also purchased. These would be distributed amongst the various group members' homes as partial replacements for what they pulled from their larders in the way of more storable foods.

Fareway stores were also hit by other shoppers. The same plan of action prevailed, vary the times of entry and the amounts and types of items purchased. Whereas one designated shopper purchased 2 25lb bags of flour another bought 3 10 lb bags, even though they larger bags remained in stock. Nitrogen-packed bags of dry yeast were also purchased. In between awaiting their turns the gatherers hit smaller mom and pop and neighborhood stores, careful to buy only a few items depending on the size of the store. Here, a simple handbasket was considered the norm, there a small cart with a dozen items. Under a loaf of bread and carton of eggs was canned hash, Spam, several cans of vegetables or soups. Had anyone been watching though they might have taken notice that there were no breakfast cereals aside from quick oats or creamed wheat, no frozen foods, and no snack foods such as chips, though there were always a couple of boxes of saltines.

Pete's Super Valu in Monroe was visited by a member who lived in that area and who had a long history of buying large size cans and case lots. She was well known to the store employees and no one batted an eye when she left one cart by the registers and went to fill another one. When she finally was ready to check out a wisecracking carryout tried ribbing her. "Going to feed an army, Mrs. Armstrong?"

Quick on her feet Lydia Armstrong retorted right back. "As a matter of fact, yes. But since you aren't old enough to be joining yet I guess you'll just have to go hungry."

The clerk just smiled at the lad's discomfiture. No doubt he'd forget all about it and rush to bag her order the next time Lydia came in, as she always tipped the boys a couple of dollars for making them do the work of as many as 5 orders all in one go. If Lydia wasn't buying supplies for a church dinner she was having another one of her family feeds with extended family members from several counties converging on her farmstead. What the clerk did not know was how few of those "family members" were actually relations. The so-called family gatherings had been going on since "98. Funny how the size of the crowd had grown a mite over the years and how relatively few children ever attended them.

Meantime, several pickup trucks with extended range fuel tanks were being filled at stations that they were otherwise seldom seen at. Later these same tanks would be tapped for about 35 gallons each, leaving the driver to refill later at another location. Dozens of jerry cans would be filled for transport, later to be emptied into larger bulk tanks located elsewhere, and the jerry cans returned for reuse.

At a local doctor's office a phone call was taken by an office nurse. "Sure, let me check quick, hang on." She pushed the hold button and went to grab a chart from the files. Returning she picked up the handset again and clicked the button. "Yes, that's right, Frank is to have a 30 day supply with no refills on the Percodan, and the same on the Cyclobenzaprine. Otherwise just his usual medications. Looks like he is good for another 90 days before we need to renew the prescriptions." A brief pause while she listened to the voice on the other end, then, "You are certainly welcome. No, never a bother. Bye-bye."

Finished with her conversation she went back to her duties, a wry smile on her face. A system long in place had been used once again. For several years various patients had been given "prescriptions" for various medications for one complaint or another, sometimes legitimately called for as with Frank's arthritis medications, and occasionally, but so, often as to be noticed in particular, an extra script, as with the Percodan and Cyclobenzaprine. Not so unusual for an acute arthritis flare-up. Unless you considered that Frank had only a mild case of arthritis and sued nothing stronger than Ibuprofen for it - ever.

Cynthia had worked in the office for 7 years now. She was competent and well known and clinic manager. If there was ever a question about a prescription you simply called Cynthia. Sometimes it was to verify a change, sometimes because either Dr. Jolivette or Dr. Witess hadn't written the script clearly enough. Most of the calls were for legitimate scripts, the rest the means for gathering over time an appreciable stash of medications that were safely stored in freezers across a very wide area. The chart she had recovered was merely a duplicate, carefully tended to and kept in case there was ever a question. It was one of 11 such charts. Inside the clinic only Cynthia knew of the subterfuge. In each case the prescriptions were paid for at the time of purchase, ostensibly to be reimbursed later by insurance. Actually they never were, for insurance fraud was not part of the game. Stocking up, however, was.
 

kjacks

Senior Member
Excellent story, you're good at details! I too was raised in Central Iowa, and have relatives in nearly every town you mention...I've been down most of the highways, too, and it's detail like that sure brings me "into the fray" more closely than many other stories have. Thanks again, and TIROFOG!
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter IX - Part IV

Dateline: Sparta, Wisconsin

Fort McCoy had been for longer than most area residents had been alive an active military reservation. National Guard and Army Reservists by the hundreds of thousands has spent their 2-weeks annual training there. In 1990 it was the scene of pre-deployment training and outfitting for Desert Shield/Storm, and during the Muriel Boat Lift of 1980 it had been used to house nearly 15,000 thousand Cuban refugees. In previous times it has trained WWII divisions, housed Civilian Conservation Corps battalions, served as a POW camp, and more. Over 60,00 acres were dedicated to training, maintenance and storage.

Other years it was the scene of mechanized and armored as well as infantry maneuvers for units from states that didn't have life fire ranges for the larger guns or terrain to suit the preferred training regimens. It also housed many of Wisconsin's own armored units. Besides those of Wisconsin it served a 9-state area, housing hundreds of pieces of battle equipment (vehicular) in temperature-controlled environments, ready for quick dispersal should the need arise. It seemed the need had arisen, and more than only the US military has designs on using it.

Not long after the first Royal Guard troops had set foot inside the US and firmed their beachhead as it were Fort McCoy was targeted for a previously unknown type of assault by Middle Eastern troops. Far enough away from the eastern seaboard fighting, which its normal debarkation facilities in Virginia locked up by the battles, the vehicles, armor, artillery and stores sat, awaiting orders. An effective ruse order issued by Washington to "hold and maintain in the present state" all equipment, stores and expendables. Who actually issued the order was never known, only that it had come, ostensibly, from the Pentagon. In effect it prevented mid-western state Guard and Reserve units from deploying. The normal compliment of personnel had swollen from approximately 70 to 120 meantime in anticipation of deployment orders, but they had no orders to break the sealed environment buildings open and merely languished, equipped with nothing more than a few small arms at the effective rate of one rifle or sidearm per soldier.

When the unexpected assault arrived it was literally a bolt out of the blue. Airborne troops, some 250 in all - virtually all the "peacekeeping forces" could muster at the time - came on broad daylight. Less than 30 minutes behind them came a commandeered commercial airliner with trained technicians whose job it was to make ready the equipment for deployment whilst the commandos secured and maintained the perimeter. Without the trucks, Humvees, fuel and water transports, artillery pieces, trailers, vehicle recovery units and other items, never mind two platoons of M1A1 Abrams tanks, there was very little local forces could do to counterattack, for now. Only a bare handful of personnel made it out of the base and effected their escape. Not all were unharmed, and a desperate race began for safety. Fearing that they had been sold out they fled, making their way southwest towards a town called Lansing, and hopefully, safety.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

As the hours grew longer without sign of the supply convoy Andrea grew more and more worried. The feeling of impending…. something, just would not go away. She perused the contents of her bag once more, for the third time today. It was not as if anything might change but that it gave her something to do. There were always the fixtures in the barn to start with, but somehow that didn't seem appropriate.

IV Solution, 1,000 ml NS - check
IV Solution, 500 ml NS, x2 bags - check
Tubings, Microdrip - check
Tubings, Macrodrip, x2 - check
IV Catheters, 2 ea 14, 16, 18, 20, 22 ga - check
IV Prep Supplies - check
SAM Splint, 36", compressed - check
Gauze, 4" Roller. Sterile, x3 -check
ABD Pads, 5'x9", x4 - check
2" Sterile Roller Gauze, 2 ea - check
Military Combat Dressings, 7"x8" w/tails - check

How well she knew the contents of that bag. Twice in 5 years it had been drug out of her vehicle to be used at the scene of an accident. Many more times it was carried to a neighbor's with little more than the BP cuff and stethoscope used. Always it was ready, though. Sighing to herself with impatience, wishing fervently the feeling would go away, she forced herself to continue to check what she knew without doubt was already there.

Instrument Roll - check
Small Skin Stapler - check
Lidocaine, 1%, 20 ml bottle - check
Morphine, 10 mg Carpuject Cartridge and Syringe - check
Epinephrine, 1:1,000, 1 ml ampule, x2 - check
Valium, 10 mg Carpuject Cartridge - check
Swedish Tri-Cuff - check
Sprague-Rappaport Stethoscope - check

The list went on, each item chosen for utility and value, for both emergent use and the inevitable calls to assist a neighbor. The irrigation syringe that, combined with one of two catheters also carried, could be pressed into service as expedient field suction as well as for its more mundane use for irrigating wounds.

Oral Airways, 4 sizes - check
Laryngoscope Handle, C-cell size - check
Laryngoscope Blades, 2 ea Wisconsin and MacIntosh - check
Endotracheal Tubes, whole sizes 3.0 - 9.0 mm - check
Tube Stylet, 1 ea adult and peds - check
Magill Forceps - check
Paramedic Shears - check
Ring Cutter - check

Her searching had taken on a mechanical autonomy. Fingers searched and eyes sought but her mind was elsewhere. Where was the convoy? It was now later in the afternoon and they should have arrived 2 hours ago even with breaking for lunch and tossing in a blown tire along the way. And no word. Not a peep.

Sterile Saline, 250 ml bottle, 2 ea - check
Glutose Tablets - check
Bite Block/Tongue Depressor Combo - check
Oxygen, A Tank w/Regulator, outside vertical pocket - check
Oxygen Mask, Adult, Non-Rebreather - check
Oxygen Mask w/Nebulizer - check
Oxygen Cannula, 2-Prong - check
Albuterol Vials, Single Dose, x3 - check

The bag was packed to the gills and then some but everything had a purpose. Certainly she could have
replaced one thing with something else. Or gone with lighter equipment. The entire unit weighed 22 lbs after all. When she had inquired once during an EMS ride-along as to why their first out bag was so heavy she'd been informed that it weighed in at 34 lbs because they carried a D-tank O2 bottle, a fabric stretcher, and a portable 12-lead ECG unit, along with a 9-piece intubation blade set and much more. Their aim was to be able to address initial response for a cardiac arrest with the fewest separate pieces of gear possible. Add the defib unit and they could at least make it through their airway, IV, defib and first round of drugs, while suctioning vomitus and administering oxygen, without ever returning to the unit for more equipment. That was what bystanders and first responders were for. In retrospect it made her bag look puny by comparison, and in many ways much less capable.

Completing her busywork task once more she settled back, thinking, trying to get a deeper sense of the "feeling" she was experiencing.

Dateline: Near St. Olaf, Iowa

A kindly lady who shopped often at the country store had offered a ride to the girls if they could wait until after lunch when she had completed some other tasks. Since it was free fare as it were they didn't mind. They spent their waiting period doing a little shopping of their own, a few things that a young woman away from home for a time might require. Each had an old suitcase packed with personal items and simple clothing, and a bedroll consisting of an old-fashioned tick mattress, sheets, a couple of blankets and a pillow. It was fortunate the woman drove an extended cab pickup, so there would be room inside for her passengers and room in the back for their baggage. Sometimes those who ask the least receive the greatest.

The ride over had been uneventful. The girls were circumspect about the reasons for their journey, and the woman knew enough not to inquire too deeply. She did learn that the area farmers and families had recently had a sort of barn raising in the area and the girls were destined to the same place to assist with further "duties."

Ruth had allowed that she hoped there would be a good amount of sewing to do, as she sincerely enjoyed it and the old house certainly could use some curtains. The woman smiled at the enthusiasm of youth, and the conversation such as it was drifted to general talk of the troubles and the effects they were having on the prices of goods, and how everyone hoped they would remain on the other side of the country.

Finally, upon reaching St. Olaf the girls bid their patroness a good day with sincere thanks for her kindness and assured her they would be fine from thereon, as they expected to be met for the last part of their journey. It was their way of protecting Andrea from too many people outside the area from knowing of the location of her little hospital. Though intrigue was new to them, having as it did no part in their society, yet they somehow knew instinctively that caution was called for in this new world.

Sara had been charged with keeping an eye to the safety of the little troupe. It was she who had decided that approaching a local resident might garner for them safekeeping of their bundles. Meanwhile they'd walk the remainder of the way. An hour or two of walking was not a burden in their minds. As it was they happened to stop in at the lumberyard. Mr. Emmons was only too happy to assist them, and in fact insisted that he be allowed to drive them the remainder of their journey.

"Oh yes, I know who you mean. Nice gal, she is, very nice. Good customer, too." He was not about to let this opportunity pass. He had his own reasons for wishing to make a trip out to the old farmstead himself.

The Amish girls, unable to think of any way to politely refuse his offer of transport not only of their goods but also for themselves, quietly accepted and hoped Andrea would not be upset. They were, after all, arriving rather unannounced.

Dateline: Lansing, Iowa

A single military Humvee cautiously wound its way along the back roads until its occupants had no choice but to trust to luck and good fortune. There was after all a river to cross and that meant a bridge. Fortunately it did not appear to be guarded. One fellow, familiar with the area from past hunting and fishing trips, knew another man who lived by Harper's Ferry, whom he believed could be trusted in the way old hunting buddies could be. Once across in a dash they veered off the main roads and wended their way along the twisting, winding back roads of gravel and even dirt. There was little traffic and what they saw quickly passed by without so much as a curious glance. People were already starting to instinctively fear anything military, as it might mean "The Troubles" had come to their area.

Because of the deteriorating condition of one of their number they had no choice but to push on. He'd been too close when an RPG round had gone off and been peppered with fragments as well as burned by the explosion. He was in a progressively deeper state of shock and aside from a basic first aid kit that was part of the truck's normal gear there was no aid to give him. No medications, no IV's, nothing for the pain. They could only try to cool his burns and cover him with sterile gauze pads in an attempt address his wounds. That, and hope the hunting buddy could help.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Andrea was momentarily startled by the sound of a vehicle coming up the drive. Because of the screen of trees she could not see its approach until it was in the clear. The same screen that concealed the house and farmyard from the road also meant she had little warning of approaching vehicles should they not choose to pass by as all had save for the visit by the Amish craftsmen and their family members.

Sticking her Taurus .45 inside her jeans behind her waist and pulling her shirt out a bit to conceal it she went out to the porch to greet her visitor. It was not a vehicle she was familiar with, and there seemed to be several bonneted young women - Amish? - riding in the back peering over the stake sides. Most decidedly NOT her supply convoy.

Mr. Emmons pulled up to the drive area in front of the house and stopped. When Andrea saw who it was she was somewhat relieved, and felt a bit foolish knowing she had the .45 concealed in the small of her back. Still, one never knew these days. She was also puzzled, both by his visit and his passengers.

As the Amish girls slowly climbed out of the back of the C-60 staked flatbed Mr. Emmons exited the cab.

"Good afternoon!" he called in a cheery voice. "I managed to find some hitchhikers and thought I'd bring them along!" He stood there by the truck, a smile on his face, but something in his expression told Andrea there was more to his visit than that. Her senses were tingling in a strange way.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter X Part I - Taking Form

Patriot Aid Station Chapter X - Taking Form

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

Within a few minutes the remaining civilians were being routed out of their basements and through the back alleys to the north side of town. From there they'd be on their own. Whereas everyone else who had taken flight earlier had been able to drive off that was no longer an option for the time being. Perhaps they could find a couple of cars or pickups at the outlying residences in the semi-rural area to the north. In any case a mile would place them at the nearest farm. Well, in any case, he'd done what he could. Though he couldn't see any of the civilians as they were herded away be could imagine that, knowing the attitudes of those who'd elected to remain behind, sullen expressions outnumbered panicked looks.

There wasn't any more time to ruminate on the matter - the Loyalist troops were advancing now. There being no defending fire - for now - they were moving faster in their eagerness to get through this town and at the persons responsible for their misery thus far. So they hoped.

They were allowed well into the town itself. The first few houses had had their doors unceremoniously kicked in and a couple had grenades tossed in for good measure. But the residences were found to be empty. Judging from the looks of things the occupants had simply fled without bothering to pack. The temptation to engage in a little "field acquisition" was strong but the impatience of the officers and NCO's was felt. Reluctantly the troops moved on.

The first sign of opposition came as they entered the smallish downtown area. Unseen in the gathering dark several Mason jars came sailing in high overhead in an arc to land in fair proximity to the lead squad. Launched from nearly 150 feet away, unseen from positions behind hedges, they were propelled by the force of well-stretched strips of common tire inner tubing. Any country boy would have called them slingshots, for in effect they were. A pair of fencing t-posts hastily pounded into the ground well before the troops came into the area of the town allowed for the forks. The inner tubing was attached, having been prepared for just this purpose. A rude sighing mechanism had been fashioned by the simple expedient of twisting wire between the tops of the posts with a loop formed in the center so it lined up with the intended landing area for the projectiles. The "gunner" merely sat on the ground and pulled back while his assistant loaded a "cannister" into the piece of carpeting fastened over the rubber band by cutting slits so it could slide. All the better to change the point of aim just a bit.

When directed by the assistant the gunner merely released his load. The assistant popped another into the cradle formed by the carpet and popped his head up for a quick look and then directed the gunner. "Right 5 degrees." The gunner shifted the cradle slightly, and when the assistant's arm chopped launched another projectile. They had practiced this the day before when the idea was first contrived. Doing so they found they could have a 2nd round in the air before the first landed.

Upon landing the jars smashed. They had been carefully prepared just ahead of time by adding common baking soda and vinegar. Not enough to cause the jar to explode but enough to build pressure so that when they broke on landing the result was a very distinct "FOOM!" Every jar was also carrying a smaller lightweight mayonnaise jar. Being less sturdy than the Mason jars they also broke upon impact. These were filled with very finely ground black pepper. The effect was a distinct report followed with a small cloud of pepper. Anyone within 10 feet would get a faceful. Crude but effective.

The results on the troops was as expected. First, a small barrage of the Mason jars crashing about them with the distinctive "FOOM!" then a cloud of something they couldn't see but could feel the effects of. The panicked cries quickly went up.

"Gas! They're firing gas!" The lead squad quickly broke and began to run for the rear. The squad across the square stared at them in amazement. They'd heard something but weren't quite sure what. Then, they too, were pelted. Between the two teams they were thoroughly routed by an old trick. Had it been daylight they might have seen what they were dealing with, but in the gloom it wasn't readily apparent.

Before all was said and done each launcher crew sent a half dozen of their crude shells winging skyward. The pepper would settle quickly but the Loyalists wouldn't know that, nor even be sure what it was. From their point of view it was likely some form of riot agent. That meant returning with masks at least.

Dateline: Patriot Aid Station - Virginia

The makeshift motor home *** ambulance was filling rapidly. The crew, consisting of 2 EMT's and an RN spared from duties at the FAS, had a long drive ahead of them. It was far from an ideal situation but with sympathies divided across the country between accepting whatever the new government said and taking care of patients no matter whom or what there was no choice but to move those requiring long term care to a safe area. Others who would require shorter stays would be removed to closer locations, and another, whose injuries could be passed off as a construction accident, sent to a hospital approximately 100 miles distant where it was hoped he would be safe for the several weeks he would require to recover from spinal injuries. That is, as well as he could. He'd be a paraplegic for the remainder of his life, even without disruptions in the healthcare system.

Though it could accommodate up to 8 stretchers it was thought that 4 cases would enough for what was to be a trial run. Besides which, no one knew precisely where they were headed, only that they would receive information along the way. A pickup truck fitted with extended range fuel tanks would also accompany them as an escort, and also in case of trouble. It was in fact stolen from the USGS and the requisite government plates and door panel signs to match. It was otherwise your standard, government issue white non-descript Chevy pickup. It would range some 10 miles ahead to watch for blockades. It carried camping gear, spare fuel cans, some tools and, a few other items well hidden from casual inspection. Part of the ruse depended strongly on it being a government vehicle. Presumably should they meet a patriot force they would be viewed as likely harmless enough to be allowed to approach and present their credentials.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Andrea was momentarily confused. Here were three Amish girls, arrived quite unexpectedly, and Mr. Emmons, the St. Olaf lumberyard owner. Her intuition told her that they were not the cause of the uneasy feelings she was experiencing, yet somehow connected all the same. She decided that the best way to address the situation would be to take the bull by the horns and simply act as if this was nothing more than an unexpected visit by the neighbors.

"Well, this is certainly a surprise. To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" She stood there just off the porch, hands on hips, looking for all the world like a farmwife receiving welcome visitors. A forced if not entirely felt smile creased her features.

"Well," Mr. Emmons began, "Here I was about to make a call on one of my favorite customers to see how you was doing and along come these young ladies here wondering if they couldn't leave a few parcels somewhere safe until they could return for them. Seems they and I had the same destination in mind. Funny how these things have a habit of working out.

The phrase "divine providence" crossed Andrea's mind in a flash. She wondered where it had come from, then quickly dismissed the thought. Where her manners after all. She had guests to tend to, though how she could greet them with a barren house she had no idea.

Looking at the girls standing there by the back end of the truck she noted that they seemed a bit ill at ease and went to welcome them. Letting Mr. Emmons wait for the moment she went to greet them.

"Guten Nachmittag Fräulein. Ich habe nicht erwartet, Sie so bald nach Ihrem letzten Besuch zu sehen."

["Good afternoon, young ladies. I didn't expect to see you so soon after your last visit."]

"Guten Nachmittag Frau Whitewater. Verzeihen Sie bitte unserem unangemeldeten Besuch, aber. ..", Sara began, automatically responding in the familiar Deutsche, then, remembering their benefactor, switching to English.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Whitewater. Please pardon our unannounced visit, but if it is not unseemly we would like to have the chance to talk with you about matters. But please, this kind man must be busy. We may wait until he has finished his business with you, if that be alright."

Sara had a look about her of someone worried that that they had just imposed themselves on another and only just realized it. The other two girls stood behind and to the side, shyly looking down but peeking up to see how their arrival was received.

"I see your point. But first, since I don't recall your names from our last visit, may I ask them of you?"

"Of course," Sara offered. Turning, she indicated the girl closest to her. "This is Ruth."

Ruth smiled shyly at the introduction, peeking up still from under lowered eyes partially hidden underneath the brim of her bonnet. She was dressed in a medium blue calico print and wore black stockings and black sturdy leather shoes.

"This is Jeanette," she said, indicating the other girl, who was similarly dressed, though her dress was a light rose color of similar pattern.

Then, "And my name is Sara. I am the oldest." She stated with a tinge of shy pride.

"Well, Ruth, Jeanette, Sara, welcome back to my humble abode. Please, make yourselves comfortable while I talk with my other guest. I won't be but a few minutes I am sure." Andrea smiled to reassure them, aware of their seeming discomfiture. While they had an idea of the reason for her being there, so far as they knew Mr. Emmons was not and they were careful not to say anything that might cause him to wonder.

"Thank you, ma'am. You are very kind." Then turning Sara began to address the other girls in a hushed tone. They quickly nodded eagerly and went back to the rear of the truck.

"Well, Mr. Emmons, now that I have greeted my other guests, what may I do for you, sir?"

"Well, I think it is more a case of what I may be able to do for you. Mind if we sort of stroll over to the barn there for a minute. I'd sorta like to admire the work you've had done to it, if that's okay." He waited expectantly for her reply.

Dateline: Kentucky/Tennessee Area

In a repeat of a little-known but nevertheless epic Battle of Athens, TN of 1942, when veterans once laid siege to the McMinn County Sheriff's office for stealing and concealing ballot boxes in a successful attempt to rid themselves of a corrupt Sheriff's department and restore integrity to the elections, another, grander action took place. The sitting Governor, Delmond Rayford Cyrus ("Just call me Del") was known far and wide for the corrupt office he ran. Having been elected first in 2006 he was re-elected in 2010 under what were more than questionable circumstances.

In 2008 he had managed to bully through a state income tax and increased the sales tax another 1%. Since first gaining office on the basis of a platform he'd never intended to keep he'd shorted State Worker retirement funds to pay for make-work projects that were doled out to campaign supporters, overseen a fall in efficiency in the operation of State offices that produced less than 50% of the output they had before his election, and managed to ravage the state's healthcare system. Widely opposed in the last elections he had nevertheless managed to pull off a victory with nearly 62% of the vote, despite polls showing him trailing behind the challenger at 39%. A Nashville newspaper that had loudly screamed for investigations into blatant ballot fraud, made possible by electronic vote boxes supplied by yet another Cyrus campaign contributor, found itself facing several suits for slander and liable, upheld by a State judge who was firmly in Del's pocket.

The TennCare system, Tennessee's state medical aid plan, was in a shambles. Bankrupted by corruption, double and triple billing, slashed funding and roll padding with relatives and extended family members of officials who would otherwise never qualify for free medical care. Even St. Jude's Children's Hospital had been affected. A complicated scheme by State officials had called for the refunding of several million dollars in reimbursements. For the first time since its founding St. Jude's was forced to turn away children in need of services they could not otherwise find within a radius of several hundred miles. A year and a half later the hospital was still on the verge of foundering as "discrepancies" were found during State inspections and massive fines handed down. Meanwhile, citizen outrage only grew.

In the Lebanon State Forest a group was forming up. They meant to take care of business. As one wag present put it, "We need to pull an Athens on the Governor's Office before he ruins everything that's left. Give him another week and he'll be inviting them Loyalists to set up camp in the Capital Building parking lot. Time we showed him and the rest of the world what us Tennesseans is like." There were no opposing voices, only nods and shouts of agreement.

Up in Kentucky, concealed within the forests of the Barren River Reservoir, a large gathering of National Guardsmen and Reservists who'd failed to heed the call to arms by the Tennessee governor were acting in similar accord. Aided by their northern brethren in Kentucky they were making plans of their own, and they centered on a certain Biosphere.

Dateline: Iowa, PAS Supply Convoy

The convoy had barely made 5 miles since departing the Van Horne area when Raymond and Charlotte received a call. Alphanumeric pagers had long been part of the comms plan. They were widely available with coverage extending across most of the Midwest within range of the so-called "satellite" system. In reality it was merely a series of towers that provided more or less seamless coverage throughout the states. First in service since the early "90's it was popular not only with small EMS and fire departments but everyday Joe's who found cellphones inconvenient and bothersome. It didn't matter if the page was traveling but a few blocks or several hundred miles - the signal was bounced across the network regardless. Changes in technology meant that they no longer were queued for up to 5 minutes during heavy traffic periods but guaranteed to transmit within 15 seconds.

The nice part was also the fact that only the originating phone of the sending party was traceable. The recipient pager was also, of course, known, but literally anyone could be carrying it anywhere within an 11-state area. Pagers and subscriptions were sold in blocks in many instances and parceled out by the reseller. If the reseller wasn't too fussy about proper ID, etc, so what

"Eyes saw 80 at doc. Pull script vision for nighttime. Help possible. Sent for specialist."

Reading every other word and knowing what the message might pertain to it made sense. They were to pull into a safe area and go into hiding, and further assistance would be sent. They'd been spotted during the previous couple of hours when they had crossed Interstate 80, and someone, overhearing a news report most likely, had called the sighting in. The searchers would now know to concentrate north of I-80. That effectively cut the search area in half.

An abandoned farmstead outside of Keystone Iowa that was known to the group offered the closest safe shelter for something as large as the truck. Granted it was backtracking towards the presumed area of the search but the risk had to be undertaken. The area of the state they were in was far to flat to count on hills and trees to cover the truck's passage from a distance, and it was too easy to spot.

Accordingly they headed in that direction after a hasty conversation over the private radio net possible with the encrypted portable radios they carried. The range was but a few miles but quite sufficient for present purposes. In order to present as little chance as possible of all being caught up by chance they increased the spread between the vehicles such that Rick was in the lead by some 3-4 miles, followed by the now-fugitive truck, and another two miles back followed Raymond and Charlotte. In this fashion they hoped to avoid being overtaken from either direction by surprise.

The miles between them and the farmstead went by uneventfully. In their favor traffic on the back roads was non-existent. No doubt this was partially due to the events befallen the country, and also due to the time of day. No one would yet be returning from a town job, nor was it either planting or harvest season. Corn was too tall for cultivation, too short for detasseling, and the beans not yet requiring another application of herbicides.

Upon reaching the tumbledown farm the truck was pulled into a half-collapsed old barn, out of sight from any passersby, even should they chance to enter the short lane. There lay no inhabited residences within 2 miles on the closest side and they were reasonably certain that their passage had been unwitnessed. The Cherokee and Ray's vehicle were likewise pulled out of sight behind buildings. Now, there was little to do but wait.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Dateline: Harper's Ferry, Iowa

The HUMVEE and its cargo of bodies fleeing the recent battle arrived at the rural home of the hunting buddy. There, on the door of his machine shop, was a small sign, obviously a regular feature. "Gone to town. Back in 45 minutes" it said. 45 minutes starting when one might only guess. The frustration evident on the faces of the other Guardsmen and Reservists was more than evident. One went so far as to voice his growing anger at their situation.

"Dammit to heck and gone! Why are we running around in the back woods when Dan here needs some serious attention?" His voice was course with emotion.

The buddy's friend, a 3-stripe sergeant, grew noticeably tense in response. "You have a better idea, 'Private'," he spat out, emphasizing the difference in ranks?

Mustering his courage, built of his frustration and the heat of the moment, the private responded hotly, "Yeah, there's a hospital over there in Waukon 'cording to the sign we saw this side of the river. Why not head there? It's not that far." He glared at the 3-striper, daring him to defy his question.

Defy it he did, showing the rest of the little group why he wore the stripes and others didn't. "Yeah, that's right. A hospital. Which Dan damn well needs and nobody's arguing. You seem to forget what we left behind not that far off, and the news reports we've been hearing for the past couple of months, too."

"What the hell's that got to do with it? You rather that man die than take a chance of us getting rounded up? Just drop him off and hit the road. They can't be chasing us this far, if they even are."

He continued to stare defiantly as the other men looked on with obvious unease. Bad enough they had had to run away from a battle lost with nothing more than what they had in their hands at the time, even worse that one of their number was badly wounded and little to be done it seemed. And now this.

"Son", the sergeant said in a low voice, emphasizing yet again the difference in ranks, and adding the years between them as well, "I have seen wounded men before, unlike you. I know he's in a bad way, but I also know he'll last a while yet. If we drop him off at that hospital there is no telling how long before someone pays a visit looking for just such a person. What good is it if we get away and he ends up arrested and hauled back to McCoy and internment? Do you 'really' think he'd be any better off?"

His eyes starting for a moment, the private seemed to consider the sergeant's words. Then, "How do you know somebody would turn him in or word would get out and they'd find him?" The fire in his words remained as well as the attitude.

"I don't, and you don't know they wouldn't, either. But considering they've grabbed militia out of hospitals in southern Iowa and elsewhere do you really think he'd fair any better being this close to the Royal Guard troops? Not to mention we need fuel and once we get there we have to get some, or risk being stuck ourselves. I for one don't want to take a chance the local sheriff isn't a political stooge and eager to win brownie points by taking us into 'protective custody.'" Then, pausing for a moment, he continued.

"You guys check around for a fuel barrel. I know there is one, maybe we can find a few gallons at least. I'm sure my buddy won't mind considering the circumstances."

Given direction and a task that at least got them busy and away from the argument the other men that weren't tending to the wounded man quickly spread out amongst the buildings and trees. After a moment the argumentative private joined them, but not before snorting and departing with a distinct stomping to his gait.

Returning to the HUMVEE the sergeant asked of the man tending to Dan, "How's he doing?"

The man turned to face the question. "About the same. His breathing seems to be a little worse than before and he's not really conscious. Sort of, but not really. Bleeding's stopped though, for now."

The sergeant grunted in response. He gazed at the wounded soldier, his mind churning with choices. If his buddy didn't show up soon, assuming he was even around these days, they'd have little choice but to find a hospital and take their chances that the patient would be placed ahead of other considerations. At least long enough for them to figure something else out.

Dateline: Iowa Army Ammunition Plant

The defenses were shaping up well. The Bobcats had been joined late in the evening by a small dozer. Leaving the smaller vehicles to their work it concentrated on pushing more earth up into protective ramparts and tearing out yet another ditch on an approach that was otherwise not yet addressed save for some fixed obstacles. A small crawler trencher located and transported out earlier had broken down before it could even begin work and despite desperate efforts it could not be made to function. The defenders resorted to digging entrenchments by hand, a laborious process.

So far they remained unmolested though local authorities were generally aware of the activities they nevertheless saw no reason to oppose them. Sentiments ran high against the new government, the "peacekeeping" forces imported by them, and the resulting affects on the national economy. Naturally the plant was local source of fervent pride. It not only provided before now a reasonable wealth of jobs going back decades but the products of its assembly lines had long played an important role in the defense of the US. If anyone saw matters differently now they kept such opinions to themselves.

Lacking actual artillery pieces for the projectiles and warheads they were trying to save from capture the so-called rebel forces were not without a few tricks up their sleeves. Though little more than anti-personnel weapons improvised bombs were quickly produced well away from the scene and quietly smuggled in. They were one and all of various designs and construction but there was little doubt that they'd have an effect. How much of one remained to be seen.

Three 3-sided revetments were built, widely spaced by several hundred yards. Owing to the limited range of the improvised "artillery" they had to be. In their favor was the fact that should one fall to enemy action the others would not similarly be endangered by the same forces without their being exposed to supporting crossfire. They formed a rough semi-circle facing from the SE to the NE, the natural line of attack. To approach from any other side meant traveling miles out of the way, and the roads to the south and north would be blocked physically. The Sheriff had already placed roadblocks on all approaches to keep civilians out of the area, but his men had orders not to interfere in any way with "official" forces. To say they would have been outgunned and outnumbered would be putting it mildly, not that the sentiments weren't there.

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana
The Royal Guards officer was totally beside himself now. His assault on the community had been effectively repulsed, his light armor had been damaged and rendered inoperative pending repairs and the treatment of casualties, one truck destroyed, more men wounded or killed outright, and he had yet to lay eyes upon a single member of the opposition!

From the reports of his skirmishers he decided that nothing worse than riot agents had been deployed against his forces. That made sense, for surely the Americans would not sacrifice one of their beloved towns merely to deploy nerve agents against a relatively small force such as his. No, they sought merely to delay and disrupt. Aside from the mines and the small field piece deployed against the armor they had yet to fire a shot. The amateurish ambush back down the road notwithstanding. He'd had no problem busting that up. So long as he had targets his troops would prevail.

Mustering his junior officers and non-coms he gave orders for a deployment in force. The men were to don their masks and take other basic precautions against the riot agents. There would be no need of full chemical suits, of that he was certain. Not that they carried such anyway.

Dateline: North Dakota

The northernmost contingent of the John Muir Brigade, having left Lake Sakakawea and the ruptured dam far behind, sent a few emissaries into the Devil's Lake Sioux Indian Reservation in an attempt to arouse their "spiritual brothers and sisters" to "join them in arms against the long standing oppressors of Father Sky and Mother Earth." They were not well received, and fled barely ahead of a hasty force of Native Americans intent on showing them exactly what they could do with their radical environmentalism. Strangely enough it seemed they were intent on delivering their guidance with the aid of an assortment of blunt objects and hunting arms, which the greens wisely chose to forego.

Rebuffed in so strong a manner it never occurred to the greens that perhaps their message was not only not welcome but also decidedly contrary to what the Indians wished to hear. Longstanding grudges against the treatment the tribal ancestors had received did not automatically translate to willingness towards accepting foreign intrusion as a better means of redress. Nor were they the least bit favored towards those who openly called for assisting the over-throwers of the national government, no matter how poorly they may have thought of it.

Disappointed but undaunted the Brigade members continued on their way, wreaking havoc along they way when they found it opportune, all in the name of restoring the natural order of the land, as they saw it. In truth they were no more than outlaws and no less than anarchists. Eventually they found themselves on the Minnesota prairies outside the town of Ada, MN. From there they bore south along state highway 9, towards eventual rendezvous with their other two contingents. Little did they realize that one would not be joining them. Their brethren had been unavoidably detained.

Dateline: Greater United States

In Caesar's Head, South Carolina, in Fanning Springs, Florida, in the small town of Osgood, Ohio, Shingle Springs, California, Irwin, Iowa, and Oracle, Arizona, Seneca, Nebraska, Jerome, Idaho, and elsewhere the conflicts were having a telling effect. Owing to interruptions first in transportation and then later in raw materials, power and many small problems multiplied by dint of number into much larger concerns, supplies of a little known - but for the users essential - drug known as Larodopa was becoming hard to find. It was an older medication used in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. Without a constant supply of it patients would face Parkinsonian crisis once their supply ran out. Their ability to function in their daily routines would be severely compromised at best. Effective substitutes were difficult if not impossible to come by in the outlying areas. In larger cities workarounds could be made; alternative medications, stocked in larger quantities simply because there were larger affected populations of such patients. But for those in the more remote towns and cities little in the way of such hope was there.

Likewise imports of the critical drug Insulin were also curtailed. The great majority of the various forms of the drug, so critical to insulin-dependant diabetics, were imported from Denmark, long a prime supplier. In fact, prior to the year 2000 some 70% of all Insulin used in the U.S. was manufactured there. Some people were fortunate in that they were borderline cases and could function reasonably well without a steady supply, while others could make adjustments to diets and exercise and likewise function without it for some years.

Cheap cotton products in the form of bandages and dressings, arm slings and orthopedic appliances manufactured in China began to run low throughout the supply chain. Disposable instrument trays, for many years now a mainstay of the ER and the outpatient surgery as well as the nursing floor, were in short supply. The dependence on cheap, disposable imports was telling. After a while durable medical instruments would also be hard to come by, but for now they held up. Only those hospitals and clinics that were due for replacing instruments were worried, for now. Sure, there were stocks in warehouses here and there. Unfortunately, not all of those warehouses were reachable any longer. Some depended upon now interrupted commercial routes, while others lay behind what were in truth as well as effect occupied territory. A very few were casualties of war. Such usable items as they still contained might never be dug up.

In eastern Pennsylvania fighting knocked out a regional power grid when destroyed substations and high-tension lines caused a cascading failure. In addition to the inconvenience it also interrupted the carefully controlled process of "cooking up" a large batch of the latest generation of antibiotics. Enough product would have been turned out to produce some 1.2 million capsules filled with 2nd generation macrolide-derived antibiotic compounds. Because the molecular structure of these newer generation drugs was so complex, comprising 14-, 15- and 16-membered ring compounds, they were especially sensitive to changes in their production cycle. The loss of this particular batch would be telling.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Andrea was trying to take in all Mr. Emmons had just related to her. Out of earshot of the Amish girls while they pretended to inspect the workmanship on the barn he had told her of his affiliation with the Ottumwa group. He was somewhat circumspect about the exact relationship, but did say that they were "in communication." The message he brought from them was less than cheering.

"I wish I had good news for you, Ms. Whitewater, but truth be told it ain't. Your supplies may not make it through, though I 'spect they will any way. Even if they do you're going to have a patient on your hands right off."

His demeanor was almost apologetic, as if he felt somehow responsible for the incident that had befallen the little convoy. Beyond carrying the news there was little else he could offer in the way of alternatives.

"So he isn't badly injured then." She was musing aloud as much as acknowledging the news.

"Not as I understand it any way, but I don't expect he'll be a lot of help with unloading and getting things set up." He paused for a moment, then continued. "Now that I can do something about."

"How is that," Andrea inquired.

"Wellll….." he drug out the word, "What you need is some muscle and more bodies. That truck is going to be in the news all over right soon. The faster we get it unloaded and a long ways away from here the better off you'll be."

She waited patiently for him to continue.

"First off, I think it best that after today I not be seen out here. People know me and if they should happen to catch wind of this hospital of yours they might put two and two together and locate you through me."

He crossed his arms as he tossed his head back, looking upwards at the barn eaves, deep in thought. After a couple of minutes of silence he removed his arms to stick his hands in his pockets, then rocked back on his heels before continuing. Andrea, meantime, waited expectantly.

"If I were to spend the time needed to come out here and help with the truck people are going to notice my being absent from the yard. Today won't matter none, no longer than I've been gone. Time I get back I can close out the books for the day and head home with no one the wiser. Just running some parts out somewhere then back to the store is all they'll see."

"So……?" She lowered her head and stared at him with the tops of eyes.

"So what we do is send someone else instead. Someone who won't be missed for a few hours, or even a day or three."

"And that would be….?" She really wished he'd share his thoughts faster.

"That would be a couple of young bucks I know who just might have to take a camping trip out to the hills a bit. My grandson being one of them. He does that a couple times a year, so no one'll miss him or his friends."

"Isn't that a bit risky? I mean, they'd know about the arrangements then." She tilted her head back now, questioning him with her look.

"If you raise them right, like these young folks have been, and I am guessing those Amish girls waiting over there have been also, you are better off trusting them than a customer you have known for 20 years. Been my experience any way. Don't worry. I'm not the only one around here, but the fewer you know of the better. The kids, they can fend for themselves. Better than you might expect."

Letting out a sigh of resignation Andrea replied, "I guess you know best in this case. I'll take your word for it."

"That's the spirit. Now, before we get too obvious you better go tend to those young ladies and I best be getting back to the store. Don't worry, if you need anything, I'll be informed. You have more friends than you might imagine."

Andrea nodded her thanks. "Thank you, Mr. Emmons. I appreciate knowing that, more than you may ever know."

He smiled in a friendly, uplifting way, as a father might smile at his daughter. "No ma'am, it is us who thank you. Only time will tell how much we really owe you for your contributions."
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter X - Part III

Dateline: Rolls-Royce Plant, Mount Vernon, OH

During the course of the battle later known as the Rolls Choice casualties mounted. The weight of firepower was on the side of the NRRT throughout the fight. Only an eventual lack of ammunition for the weapons on both sides caused that part of the fighting to die down. From there it stagnated into a sort of stalemate; the NRRT people were barricaded inside the management suite, the workers surrounded it an all sides and had the added advantage of access to ground level and the outside.

Outside the plant, at the front gate, the standoff between Maggie and her fellow employees and the local police and NG detailed to assist the NRRT continued. A couple of calls made from inside the plant brought reinforcements in the form of 2nd shift workers. Within 10 minutes of the outbreak of the insurrection a virtual wall of private vehicles had effectively cut off the gate and all those present from the rest of the city. Once this was noted some of the cops and troops began to get uneasy. The new arrivals merely sat in their vehicles staring at them, or gathered around in small groups. Though there were no weapons present it didn't take a genius to figure out that they weren't there to serenade. Even the testosterone-laden hard case finally decided to back down a bit and content himself with glaring at Maggie after one of the older officers suggested that perhaps they back off a bit and see what came from within the plant. Not one of them suspected that the NRRT people wouldn't be holding their own.

Dateline: Virginia PAS Convoy

Stopped outside of Petersburg, West Virginia, near the Grant County Airport, the little convoy of mercy was consulting with a scheduled contact.

"Yeah, the fighting has reached this far, tho' it ain't so bad as y'all got over yer way. Gas prices are higher'n a kite but I 'spose y'all susp'cted that and planned for it." The speaker was a Highway Patrolman sympathetic to the cause. As he told them there wasn't a lot of support amongst the troopers for the new government. They could expect an official escort across the state until they reached the Ohio line. From there…? He shrugged. There wasn't much to say.

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Mike, the motor home *** ambulance driver and nominal crew chief for the convoy nodded in acknowledgement as he covertly glanced around the surrounding area. He was nervous about this mission. A lot depended on them. In essence they were blazing a new route. Though he'd done a few long transfers during his career he'd never considered anything like this, and certainly not driving a land yacht. Still, what could you do? A regular ambulance would have had an easier time of matters but they were limited to 2 patients capacity. Not every efficient in terms of fuel and personnel, not to mention time.

"Well, sir," he replied at last, "I suspect we best get going then. Longer we sit around jackjawing the more likely we are to attract attention we don't want."

The patrolman nodded in turn. "Got thet right. Y'all jist pull in behind me and never you mind them lights. We's just going to be a escortin' y'alls, don't matter to where far as anyone else in concerned. Them that needs to know knows already."

The patrolman escorted them as far as Elkins, where they pulled into an area hidden from open view from the highway. There another trooper awaited them. In the brush beside the graveled lot where he sat there were 6 gal plastic jerry cans of fuel to top off both the motor home and the pick up. Though they had a good supply of fuel left the extra was welcome and the tanks were topped off. No telling what things might be like farther down the road.

This trooper in turn escorted them without incident as far as Westin, where they picked up a Dodridge County deputy to take them along the back highway to US 50, where another trooper awaited. The West Virginia boys were as good as their word. Outside Parkersburg they again refueled for the last time before starting across Ohio. They would take 50 to within a half-hour of Cincinnati, unescorted once they crossed the state line. Near Chaseton they'd leave 50, pick up a local guide, according to what they were advised at Parkersburg, who would take them on a safe route between Dayton and Cincinnati.

The patients were holding up well, though forced to rely on bedpans. The latter proved less than optimal for emptying into the chemical toilet the vehicle was equipped with, but beggars couldn't be choosers. At the outset of the trip and throughout at intervals they were offered, and frequently accepted, Benadryl capsules. Besides quelling any queasiness to the stomach it also had sedative properties and made the ride more tolerable. There was little for the patients to do besides sleep or talk. Pain medications only went so far, so any distraction from the discomfort exacerbated by the ride was welcome.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

The girls had unpacked their gear from Mr. Emmon's truck by the time the conversation in the barn was finished. They were waiting patiently when Andrea returned. Clarence, for his part, merely waved to the girls and added a smile, then climbed in the driver's seat and drove away. Sleeping pallets and such luggage as they had brought being piled on the front porch the girls sat on the edge of it, anxiously waiting their turn.

"Well, ladies, to what do I owe this pleasure?" Andrea smiled reassuringly. Something told her this wasn't a chance visit, not with the amount of personal effects they had brought.

Sara was evidently the agreed upon spokesperson for the little group. She stood up from her seat on the porch and cleared her throat a bit self-consciously.

"Ahem." She paused for a moment, then continued.

"Frau Whitewater, we have come to assist you with your hospital. We have talked it among ourselves and with our families and agreed that it would be allowable. We hope we do not intrude and may be welcome." She waited expectantly for Andrea's reply.

So, this confirmed her suspicions. Well, they had proven themselves capable workers during the remodeling and cleaning. And God knew she could use the help. She had not thought ahead that far earlier, not knowing who to trust outside the group back in Ottumwa, and it had never occurred to her that the Amish might be willing to do more than they had already. She trusted Charlotte and her friends to make arrangements as they had previously discussed.

"I see. Well then, I must say this is a surprise, and not the least unwelcome." Speaking more to herself than addressing the girls, then, "No indeed, not in the least bit." She smiled at them, a genuine, open smile of welcoming appreciation.

"Alright then, how about we get you situated. I see you brought sleeping pads and things. I warn you, you'll need them, because I don't have a bed even for myself - yet. I was expecting some things to be delivered but it seems the truck will be, ummm, delayed a while."

At this Jeanette jumped up quickly. "Oh, we do not mind. Simple is good for us." The other girl, Ruth, merely nodded.

Thinking to herself, Andrea mused, "That one is going to take some coaxing to get her to open up. Oh well, not like she would be the first one I have ever had to deal with."

Then, "Alright, ladies, if you will grab those sleeping pads and follow me I'll show you to your room. You can get the other things later, they'll be safe for the moment."

As soon as they had grabbed up their pallets she led them into the house and to the upstairs. Taking the doorway to the pair of rooms on the left she directed them into the rear room. It was neat and clean, just as the Amish workers had left it, still smelling of fresh paint. The window was both unshuttered and lacking curtains or blinds but that could be remedied easily enough.

Hands on hips she watched as they set down their burdens. "Well, what do you think? Large enough for the 3 of you to share?"

"Oh yes, it is quite adequate," Sara replied. The other two nodded in quick agreement.

"Good!" Andrea beamed. Now you can get your other things and we'll see about finding some curtains for that window and maybe a few pieces of furniture so you can have something to set your things on. Since you will use this room I'll take the back room across the hall for myself. As long as it is just us girls I think we'll make do alright."

Voicing their agreement the three quickly bounced down the stairs once again to retrieve their bags. Andrea, meantime, went out to start digging in the machine shed where she had offloaded her haul from her parents' farm. There was a single chair and a small nightstand amongst the items. Enough to allow a person to sit while they pulled on stockings and shows at least and to have a place to stow small personal items that a young lady might not wish to have in public view. Ideally there would be one for each of the girls, but for the moment this would have to do.

Dateline: Iowa, PAS Supply Convoy

As they waited for assistance to arrive a new crisis was developing, unknown to all save one person. Leadfoot was going into crisis.

Since the shooting he had insisted on continuing to operate the truck, being the only experienced truck driver amongst the group. The only other possible choices were Raymond, whom had never driven anything larger than a 20' straight truck, or Rick, who was totally destitute of any experience with large vehicles.

Thus it came that Leadfoot had been exercising his traumatized leg rather than tending to it. Certainly Charlotte had done what she could but she was a floor nurse - never had she practiced in ER, for instance. Thus traumatic emergency was beyond her experience. She did what she could to alleviate her patient's growing suffering but Ibuprofen wasn't helping any more, and jury-rigged cold packs also were to little avail. Her last resort was 4 Canadian 222 tablets, for a total of 32 mgs of codeine phosphate and 1,300 mgs of acetaminophen. Granted, it was too large a dose of the latter but it was intended as a one-time shot. As such it was far from an acute overdose and bore very little likelihood that there would be any adverse effects. She needed to control his pain. He didn't appear to her judgement to be the type that bore discomfort badly. He was truly hurting out of proportion to the injuries.

Having him once again remove his boots and sock she rechecked his pedal pulses, comparing the left to the uninjured right foot. Was she mistaken or was there a difference in the quality of the pulses that wasn't there before?

Dateline: Harper's Ferry, Iowa

The friend had returned 20 minutes after the Guardsmen arrived. Knowing that his first impulse might be to slam his truck in reverse and light out after spotting the Humvee - he knew he would have if he were in his friend's boat - the sergeant placed himself where he could watch for him. To himself he set a time limit, upon expiration of which if his friend hadn't shown up they would head southwest and take their chances. He had a couple ideas about how he might find some sympathetic people who could help.

When the late-ten's model Chevy Omega sport utility truck pulled in the tree-lined drive the self-appointed sentry stepped out, arms held up, palms out to show he was unarmed. Better to take no chances until his buddy looked past the BDU's and saw his face.

The truck halted with a modest lurch despite the brakes being virtually slammed on - 'damn' he thought to himself, 'that thing sure has a sweet suspension' - and a momentary confusion evident on the driver's face quickly cleared when he recognized his chum.

Rolling the window down he hollered out at him. "Jesus! But you scared the daylights out of me! Why'd you do that, and why the blazes are you wearing your uniform?" His expression was one of puzzlement rather than anger.

Approaching the vehicle slowly so as not to appear intent on doing harm the camo-clad buddy stopped alongside.

"Sumabitch, Tony, haven't you heard the news lately?"

"Darn right I have, but that's there and this is Iowa. What's going on? You in trouble?" His face quickly assumed a worried look to it as the thought crossed his mind.

Getting straight to the point the sergeant quickly outlined matters for him. The attack on Fort McCoy, the feeling that somebody somewhere up the line had sold them out, their fleeing at the last and one of his men wounded and in bad shape, and now they weren't sure where to go for either his safety or theirs.

Never one to stand around with his thumb up his backside the buddy, Karl, jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Climb in 'Rock. I got an idea.'

As soon as the sergeant was inside Karl took off down the short lane, pulling in alongside the Humvee. Jumping out he started shouting directions at anyone standing there.

"You! And you! Get that wounded man out of there and put him in the back of the truck. Move! You there, the blonde kid. As soon as they have him out of there you grab every bit of gear, every map, tool, spare part, candy wrapper and anything else you find and toss them in the truck."

The men looked at him, then at their noncom. The sergeant just gave them a "don't look at me" shrug and said, "Do what he says, no questions. We don't have time."

The men started springing into action as directed. As soon as Dan was transferred by 3 men forming a chest carry the designated fellow grabbed everything he could from the military vehicle and started carrying it over, dumping it on the ground while the others situated the wounded man.

Not bothering to watch the response Karl turned to the sergeant. "Come with me." Then, turning on his heel he strode off towards a small crib-like structure.

The building had been covered over on the inside on one side with the black plastic sheeting commonly used in construction as a weather barrier for unsheathed buildings. Entering the drive-through area where a tractor and grain wagon would normally sit while transferring ear corn out of the crib, Karl pointed out a metal loop from which a rod ran upwards. "

"Take that, and when I tell you to, pull hard on it, then stand back and catch the wall panel." Continuing to the other end he reached a similar device. Grasping it he then looked over at the other man. "Okay, pull."

There was a distinct clunk from each end, then the slatted wall began to separate from the rest of the structure at the top. Catching it before it fell on them the men eased it down until the free end rested on a couple of bricks conveniently placed towards the other side of the drive-through.

Inside was a storage area. The first thing that caught one's eye was the custom topper for the SUT, sitting as it was on its side against the far wall. Following his buddy's lead "Rock stepped inside.

"Grab the other end here," Karl directed. Between the two men they managed to pull the topper down into a level carrying position. From there they carried it out onto the slat wall (which, "Rock couldn't help but notice, was reinforced from the inside). Setting it down closed side up Karl returned to the interior.

Opening an aging metal storage locker of the sort commonly found in shops he reached in and grabbed something then tossed it to his assistant.

"Da-yum, buddy. You never let on to this." In his hands was a folding stock AK, a pre-ban version from the looks. A quick glance at the importer's markings in the side of the receiver confirmed this.

Karl just grinned and turned back to the cabinet. From it he drew identical piece and tossed it over as well. Grinning even wider he said, "You'll notice, also, that the selector has 3 positions. Make sure they are in the Safe position."

The only reply was a low, appreciative whistle.

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"There's more, so set them with the cap." Without waiting for a reply he dug further into the bountiful cabinet. He withdrew a pair of MAK-90's with pistol grip stocks and handed them over as well. Reaching in again he pulled out a rough dozen Chinese green canvas bandoliers, obviously filled.

"Steel core, none of that hollow point hunting crap. Been saving it for a rainy day. Looks to me like it's here."

Rock could only shake his head in amazement. The things one doesn't know about their friends.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Now that the girls were set up for sleeping quarters Andrea wasted no time orienting them to the set up and what would be expected of them.

"This is going to be our Central Supply area. I've started labeling some of the shelves in the old pantry there as well as the cupboards. As we unload the supplies from the truck you'll need to sort things out into their proper locations. When you run out of room just stick things back in the box and mark it in big letters as to what it is. I have some markers for that. For now we'll store the excess outside under cover."

"The bathroom there will be us, not the patients." Then, seeing their confusion, she explained, "Once we get several patients here the saved steps mean saved time as well. There is also the danger of cross-infections between patients and us. I don't want you sharing the privy the patients use, just in case. I have a way to protect the other patients. Bedpans and the like will have to be emptied in a lined garbage can set aside for that purpose. Again, save steps and time."

The storage tanks for the water are full, that's already been seen to. We'll have to keep an eye on them though so we don't run out. We have to run the generator to refill them. As soon as the truck arrives we'll have filters to install in the water line between the storage tank and here. The water was tested after the well was cleaned. It's okay but a bit hard, and we can't use straight hard water for cleaning instruments. Not to mention we don't want any city boys coming down with a case of, ahhh, you know what I mean." She blushed at this. As worldly as she was she found herself embarrassed for the girls.

The girls, for their part, giggled at the sight of her obvious embarrassment. Though they might shun crudity they nevertheless possessed a sense of humor. They would find in days to come that they would need it, lest they find themselves overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks ahead.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XI - Open for Business

Part I

Dateline: Andrea

It was Christmas, 1982. At 5 years of age Andrea had already firmly set in her mind what she wanted to do when she grew up. The question was only recently being asked of her. A precocious learner she devoured whatever was at hand. Books, magazines, videos and TV programs. Where others her age found amusement with Sesame Street our young lady was equally intrigued with the offering of Iowa Public Television. A few years later, when cable reached the smaller towns and satellite dishes were sprouting up on the farms it was the Discovery and Learning Channels that were her favorites, along with the History Channel and Lifetime.

"Andrea, do you know what you want to be when you grow up?" The speaker was Aunt Clarice.

"I'm going to be a nurse!" came the unhesitating response, voiced in the high pitch of youth. The confident smile that accompanied this proclamation confirmed that the notion was firmly set in her mind.

"Wouldn't you rather be a doctor instead?"

"Oh, no." A wistful response delivered in Shirley Temple-like fashion. "Doctors just tell the nurses what to do. I want to take care of people" she stated with a flair of childish determination, as if that was all there was to say on the subject.

The adults smiled at this display of innocence. Little Andrea was known for her "so there" attitude. Once she made up her mind no one would easily disabuse her of a notion.

Uncle Ludwig had to try though. With a twinkle in his eye he tried once more just to test her. "Are you sure you don't want to be a doctor? They know a lot of things about people."

Hands on her hips now and a determined look that passed for an adult face in her mind she replied, "Doctor Larson never does anything. He just looks at me and tells the nurse what to do." She followed this with a determined nod of her head. That proved everything in her young mind.

Smiles all around the room now. The innocence of youth, they thought. And they would get to experience it again shortly through her eyes, when it came time to open gifts piled under the tree.

The tree was decorated with small lights, twinkling amidst the long needles of a white pine. The tree was full-bodied and stood in the corner, out of the way of traffic. Andrea would lie on a large coil rug in front of it, head propped up on hands, and elbows planted firmly, and stare at it for lengthy periods. She thought the Christmas tree was one of the most beautiful things in the entire world. Some day, she mused, some day she would have one all her very own.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

"There a few things you need to know, girls," Andrea was saying. Her audience listened attentively without interruption.

She continued, "I don't know how much news you hear, but it is not good. The war out east is spreading fast. Just by being here you could be arrested, thrown in jail, and charged with who only knows what." She paused for a moment, then went on. "What I mean to say, is its dangerous."

The girls assumed sober, pensive looks, and then Jeannette spoke up.

"This thing that we…you are doing here, it is a right, ummmm, I am not sure of the correct word now."

Andrea filled in for her. "Ein gutes, moralisches Ding?"

"Ja, moral is the word I seek. It is a moral thing, this taking care of wounded soldiers, because they fight for us and our way of life, is this not so?"

"Es kann gesetzlich gemäß den Gesetzen des Mannes nicht sein aber ich glaube, daß es recht in den Augen des Gottes hat." [It may not be legal according to the laws of man but I believe it is right in the eyes of God.]

The three of them nodded as one at that. It made sense. They knew well enough from the stories that their elders told of times in decades past when members of their faith were officially persecuted because they did not believe in vaccinations or placing battery-operated warning lights on the rear of their buggies, amongst other things. In time they either won out or adapted to the situation. They did not have to vaccinate their children but they did have to use the amber flashing warnings and slow moving vehicle triangles. Likewise they were exempt from educating their children past the 8th grade, but free to do so if they wished, which some did and others did not. Often it was a matter of finances as well as career choices, such as midwife training or nursing. Always a few left the farmsteads, more so that past 20 years, but enough stayed that the populations grew and more communities were founded every so often.

Ruth then chose that moment to speak up.

"Frau Whitewater, it is very kind of you to address us in the Language but it is not necessary you understand."

A smile crossed Andrea's face. "Oh, I realize that. Your command of American English is far better than my German, but I need the practice, and between us we need a way to communicate without our patients understanding. You see, sometimes I might need to be blunt with you, say things that would upset the patient. If they know that German is your native language, so to speak, then they will feel more at ease. Now, if we were speaking Arabic I think the opposite would be true."

This last brought youthful grins from the girls.

"But seriously, since we don't have a common medical language between us it might be more helpful if I can state plainly, auf Deutsche, what I need or what I mean. In any case we can play it by ear. You'll have to address the patients in English, of course."

Again, more nods of agreement.

Andrea stood from her makeshift seat. "Now, let's see what we have to eat around here. I don't know about any of you but I am starving."

Ruth looked first at Sara, then at Jeannette. "If we may be allowed, we have brought with us a few things from home. We hoped that you might like some country cured meats and baked goods."

"A picnic then! Very good, I don't have to cook." Andrea's face was gleeful at this small joke. In truth she was a good cook, having learned as a farm girl to bake, broil, fry, can, parch, freeze and just about anything else. She could even butcher a deer, pluck a chicken or dehair a hog.

The 4 of them trouped off to the kitchen to gather together a late supper. Little did any of them realize that it would be the last meal they would sit down to as a group for several days.

Dateline: PAS Convoy

"Ray, we've got to move Leadfoot. He is getting worse and I am afraid he is developing complications that may need a hospital."

The concern that creased Charlotte's features bespoke volumes. Raymond could see that concern, knew it well. Charlotte tended to be motherly and occasionally clucked like a mother hen after the other members of the group as she did over her patients, but this was different, and he knew it.

"What are you thinking, Char?"

"I think we need to get him to the Station as quick as possible and let the truck sit for now. We've got others coming, they can deal with it. But if we lose Leadfoot before we even start what have we gained?" Her voice rose in pitch as she said this.

Raymond's eyebrows knit in concentration. He pinched his lower lip between his fingers as he thought quickly. The, apparently reaching a decision he motioned for Charlotte to follow him, and Rick also, who was waiting near Leadfoot in the shelter of the barn.

Safely away from being overheard he addressed them. "Okay, it's like this. Seeings how Leadfoot is in a bad way and Char here thinks he is getting worse we need to change our plans and get him over to Thumper. Rick, you take him in your car and scoot before it gets too late. You'll draw less attention I am thinking, for now. Char and I can stay here and if need be I can move the truck and her the car."

Between members outside the immediate Ottumwa group Andrea was always referred to by her code designation Since Rick from out of the area so to speak, as well as Leadfoot, they had not been told of her real name. Their contact with her had originally been planned to be limited to off-loading the truck only.

Turning to Charlotte he inquired, "Does Thumper have anything to work with?"

"Yes, she carries a bag with drugs and things. If I'm right, she might be able to help. If not, we're going to have to break security one way or another, for Leadfoot's sake."

Dateline: Chadron, Nebraska

By the time all was said and done 11 people lay dead. 7 of them were part of the John Muir Brigade, and 4 were either law enforcement or deputized locals. Deputy Dwight Carstens was the first casualty, and indeed the first fatality. In days to come the community would mourn his untimely death greatly. So much so that there was serious talk of lynching the surviving members of the Brigade that weren't otherwise already recuperating from wounds. Even they would not have fared well considering the mood of the area residents.

Trent Dawes had been Sheriff for 17 years, and before that a crusty cattle rancher. Tough as wang leather and about as handsome to boot he was the epitome of the Sandhills native. His ancestors had been amongst the first settlers in Dawes County and he was proud of that fact. Pioneering in the area that later became the town of Chadron in 1885 his family first came to the area as part of the fur trade when Louis Chartran ran a trading post alongside the creek in the 1870's.

Trent took Dwight's death very hard. He treated that man like he was his own son and no one wanted vengeance more than he did. He'd taken an oath to uphold and defend the law, and by golly there wasn't going to be any lynching while he was in office. Much though it galled him he'd had to strap on a sidearm and step out on the veranda of the building that housed the Sheriff's Office and County Jail there on Main Street and confront a group that could only be called a mob. He gave a brief thought to carrying his trademark Marlin 30-30 rifle with him but in the end decided that it might only stir things up. The sidearm was enough. The people would see that and know there were more arms inside, including automatic weapons if push came to shove.

Drawing himself up to his full 5' 11" he stood there and addressed the assembled crowd. Good people, all of them, he thought. More than a few had been there with him the other night, out on the roadblock. Some had lost friends, still more had friends wounded. Try as he might he could not blame them for their seething anger. But nevertheless he had that oath to uphold.

"Boys, I need your attention for a minute. If'n you'll all pipe down for a minute and listen to me we can all save ourselves some trouble."

"We don't want trouble, Trent, we want justice for Dwight and the others!" came a shout from the middle of the crowd. Richard Plummer, one of the posse members. Trent nodded in recognition.

The crowd's murmuring came to a halt as they waited for Sheriff Dawes' response. They respected him enough to listen, at least. Whether they'd heed his words had yet to be seen.

"Rich, no man, or woman for that matter, around here feels worse about this than I do. I loved Dwight like my own son, you know that. And try as I might I can't make any sense of his death. But that don't give us good cause to lynch nobody."

Here the crowd began to renew their grumbling. Before it could build up steam though Trent went on.

"I want justice just as bad as the next man. You all, every one of you, know what I stand for and have all these years. Dwight stood for the same thing, law…. and order! The same law and order he exercised every time he encountered any one of you," pointing to one man, "or you," pointing to another, "or anyone he ever dealt with in an official capacity."

The singling out of a few of the crowd seemed to get their attention once again. Guilt feelings perhaps. Whatever it was, it worked for the moment, and a moment of peace to say what he had come out here to say was enough.

"I know this much sure as I know cattle." Pause. A few chuckles from the crowd. "Dwight would no more approve of what you want to do here today than he would have roughed any one of you, or anyone for that matter. He never, ever used more force than he had to, and if he could get by without using any he did. No one ever showed up here for booking with so much as a bruise that didn't fit the circumstances or a button missing from a shirt. Dwight was the best damn lawman I ever met…" He had to pause a moment as his eyes misted over, then, composing himself, he went on.

"Any way, he'd never approve of the kind of justice you all want. These people are going to do some very hard time at the least. Considering the state of things out east they just might find themselves facing worse than that in a few cases. Not for me to say."

The crowd waited for him to continue.

"I talked with the folks down to Lincoln, and they're kinda full up right now. So we're gonna ship these heathen tree huggers up to the Penitentiary at Rapid City. Way things are up there I don't give a plug nickel for them getting off on any technicalities. Likely they'll be a long time shut down before they even see a courtroom, and a mighty spell longer before they ever see daylight again. We need some answers from these folks and I aim to see they are alive to provide them."

Caine Sweet spoke this time. "So what'll we do when the next group comes through, or them Royal Guard types even?"

Mulling the question over a moment Sheriff Dawes reached a decision that had been nagging at the back of his mind for weeks now.

"I'll tell you what you do, the same thing we did the night before last. We fight, all of us. I don't give no damn about some edict from over east. Out here we defend ourselves and damned if I expect any man to do otherwise. You saw the other night that some folks don't care about the rights of others. I don't care what color a man's skin is, or where his ancestors came from, or if he drives a Blazer or an import. So long as he agrees to live and let live then we'll get along just fine. But as soon as he tries to take away my living - my ranch - either he's going to get sent packing or he gets packed away in a pine box. My advice? My advice is for every one of you to pack a sidearm, just like I am and just like your grandfathers did. If the time comes again I expect you to use them justly, and you won't have any trouble from me. That's all I have to say, so you all just head home now and let me deal with these critters."

Then, without waiting to see their response he turned on his heel and strode back inside to his office and shut the door. The last thing he wanted was to bust out bawling in front of other people.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XI - Part II

Part II

Dateline: PAS Convoy

Unknown to each other, two separate relief actions were underway. The home group based in Ottumwa had a 24-foot box truck en route to Bambi (Battalion Aid Midwest), while a separate semi tractor rented from a large leasing company was leaving to try to grab the fugitive trailer. A quick camouflage job with spray paints and screw on ad panels was intended to disguise the trailer itself. It was hoped that by switching a Mack for the White chassis would be enough to discourage close observation as the two were distinctly different in profile as well as coloration.

Meanwhile, farther to the north and somewhat east Rick had set off with Leadfoot. There wasn't time this late in the day to forewarn Andrea more than had been done. Once they arrived, if Andrea decided she could not handle the situation a back-up plan was already decided upon. It was fervently hoped that they would not need it, for it meant incarceration for Leadfoot at the very least, and possibly the upset of all their carefully laid plans.

The foot, although painful and swollen, was not the concern. The leg, on the other hand, was swollen, reddened, warm to the touch and extremely painful. Every bounce, every sway, elicited an involuntary groan from the otherwise stoic patient. The pedal pulse was diminished compared to the opposite foot - that more than anything had Charlotte worried. She knew that indicated a loss of adequate blood circulation to the extremity. Leadfoot could lose the leg or even his life if her fears were realized.

Dateline: USA

The national economy was in a shambles. New York City - once vibrant with financial markets and the trendsetter for the rest of the world - was increasingly becoming a ghost town. Nearly 11,000 inhabitants had lost their lives during the smallpox epidemic a few years past. Panic had caused more than a million people to permanently pull up roots and head out away from the Big Apple. Now coupled with what was effectively an invasion by a foreign power - no matter who sat in the White House and "invited" the enemy troops in - along with an economy rocked by the Terrorist Conflicts of the early years of the new Millennium, the now-crippled Eastern seaboard transportation system and the effective loss of huge sums of government aid conditions could only grow worse before they improved.

Coffee was now $9 a can for the economy stuff that formerly sold for under $4 for a large can. The preferred brands averaged $14- $19. Sugar, which was heavily dependant on imports, exceeded the 1973 prices of nearly $1/lb. Boutiques, luxury item dealers, consulting firms and coffee shops - the great independent business opportunities of the 90's and beyond - rolled down their shutters and quit.

Colleges in the east, Midwest and along the west coast saw massively declining summer enrollments and academia screaming for the government to "do something." The liberalism of the professorial elite had finally turned tail and bit the hands that unleashed had it. Berkley became an armed encampment at the insistence of the faculty "for the good of the world." Eventually the world would be content to allow those within to slowly starve themselves into surrender. Only the mountain colleges and universities seemed to thrive. Interest in mining and engineering suddenly rose, and community colleges reported increased applications for automotive and related course.

Gasoline prices were rising, tempered somewhat by the output from "pirate" operations that reopened capped wells in Oklahoma and Texas in defiance of environmental orders of long standing. The Governor of Texas openly encouraged "reinvesting in Texas oil." Screeching demands issuing from the White House, to the effect of "this senseless rape of the pristine wilderness, this unlawful robbery of beauty the future generations of citizens of the New National Order depend on" made the media rounds. One newscaster, previously a devoted parrot of the liberal media and seemingly enthusiastic supporter of the new regime, stopped midway through his commentary and donned an incredulous mask. "Did she really say that? 'Unlawful robbery of beauty?' She really said that?" The resulting release of home recordings of the newscast made larger headlines than the official denouement of the Governor's policy regarding the reopened wells. One wag with a print shop made up posters of "Generalissimo Hillary Boxer: Unlawful robber of beauty" and distributed them through truck stops. From there they found their way through a dozen states by the end of the day. No matter how bad matters became there was a market for political satire.

Yard and estate sales were heavily attended. Shrewd buyers snatched up canners and jars, hand tools, camping equipment and anything related to firearms. In areas of the country where local and state laws had severely curtailed firearms ownership the rate at which cleaning kits, lubricants and accessories sold was nothing short of amazing. One would have thought the items would no longer be of use. Most did, some knew better, and others kept their opinions to themselves while offering pennies on the dollar for what many regarded as collectible curiosities at best.

Some people were forced to sell their third, and even second vehicles. Computerized SUVs, vans and sedans went wanting for buyers when compared to anything that was a pre-2000 model. Those were still composed of metal for the most part. Used truck dealers found themselves doing land office business on models as old as 1980. Diesels were in demand once again as never before. Those in the know planned to run them on vegetable oil and effectively disregard rising petroleum prices. In Mississippi a backyard mechanic was busy converting tractors and construction vehicles to run on wood gas, a relic of WWII shortages. They were slow, they smoked, and they ran, as long as you had wood chips to burn and stoked the fire every so many miles. The nation that had proudly produced an honest to goodness 5-passenger sedan that averaged 40+ MPG was turning back to fuel supplies that could not be cut off.

Dateline: Virginia PAS Convoy

They were making good time, he was forced to admit. Even with the frequent stops to change escorts and grab what extra fuel could be had at ever-increasing prices - thanks in no small part to greedy politicians who touted higher gas taxes as a way to encourage conservation - they had faired well. So far the journey had taken but a mere 3 or so hours more than it would have Pre-Invasion. The "official" escorts kept them rolling quickly, local guides knew the proper shortcuts, traffic was light, and they'd had no mechanical problems. Yes, Mike had to admit, the journey had gone well thus far. He could only hope and pray that it continued to do so.

Diane was experiencing the hardest time of the four patients. Her injuries were such that almost any position was uncomfortable for any length of time, and the constant motion only exacerbated matters.

For now she was resting disquietly under a combination of 100 mg of oral Benadryl and 50 mgs of IM Demerol. She could have used more Demerol and less Benadryl but the supply situation being what it was compromises had to be made. Every few hours a few cc's of normal saline were pushed through her IV lock. There were not fluids to be wasted on maintenance lines so locks were the rule of the day for access if needed.

Their route across Ohio brought them into Indiana to the south of Indianapolis. Carefully threading the needle between Indianapolis and Columbus along State 44. Not far from Martinsville they joined US 231 for a time. Crawfordsville was their landmark for State 32. Another guide was picked up at the turnoff for Coal Creek. He would accompany them into Illinois. Holding their breath a bit they skirted Danville and made their way to US 24. He in turn was dropped off near Eureka after giving them careful instructions on the route across the counties-long finger of Goose Lake near Lacon. Considering the cover of a RV being proceeded a few miles by a USGS truck it was not implausible for either to be seen in the area. So far they had not been stopped for any reason save to refuel or change escorts or guides. Each of the three crewmembers had a couple minutes to stretch their legs, grab a sandwich, and then climb back in for the next leg of their mission.

Dateline: Ottumwa, Iowa

The hasty gathering of supplies had gone well. The group was well rehearsed in their roles and much of what was at risk on the fugitive trailer was replaced. The plan was to break the supplies up into smaller packages and load them into an Isuzu delivery truck ostensibly owned by an auto part supply chain. In fact it was but what Corporate did not know was that it routinely carried an extra box or two that didn't show on the manifest. Today virtually the entire load would not match the paperwork. There was no reason to believe the truck would be searched. Doubtless the authorities could care less that the usual schedule called for nighttime deliveries rather than daylight.

Two 30-gallon drums carried part of the gathered gasoline ration. More would be sent via another carrier departing a few hours later. Food supplies, more linens and other bedding, four more folding military cots, more drugs gathered over time, a small generator in case the larger unit on the other truck was lost for good. Some of the supplies could not be assembled on such short notice of course, but given time and the need they would be.

Lydia Armstrong supervised the selection of which consumables would make the first trip. She carefully divided cases of more or less organized food groups so that were one shipment lost it would not mean an entire supply of anything. The incident with the convoy in What Cheer may have been a fluke but she had no desire to tempt fate twice. There would be the one driver alone this trip.

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

"Alright, Davey, let's check you out." His grandfather regarded his accoutrements for the supposed camping venture with mock severity. No, nothing looked amiss. The boys had done this before and were known in the smallish community for their summer campouts. No illicit beers, carefully tended campfires, and low trace methods had earned the trust of the landowners in the surrounding county. Davey and his friends were welcome whereever they cared to tramp and pitch their tent.

"Alright, I guess you'll pass inspection." Clarence seemed almost disappointed. At least in the eyes of his grandson who should have known him better. But youth being what it is he admired his grandfather and strove hard to please him. When Davie's father had died in a car crash several years before it was his mother's father who took over as male role model in the distraught boy's life. Their friendship was genuine, and the apprenticeship was formed.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Part III

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Andrea and the girls enjoyed their picnic supper of home baked goods and cured meats. Her little Playmate cooler held enough chilled sodas for everyone to have a can to wash the repast down with.

Finished with their seemingly simple meal Andrea brushed the crumbs from her hands and lap, than assumed a more serious air.

"Okay ladies. From this point on we are in business. For now I cannot tell you everything about the arrangements here but suffice to say that we have a lot of outside support and also the means to communicate with others. Because of the situation across the country secrecy is our greatest ally. Whatever happens here, whomever comes here and whomever stays here is for us to know and others to wonder about." She paused for a moment to consider what she was going to say next, then continued.

"I know about your religious beliefs are as far as violence. I admire them greatly, and that you young ladies can find a way to help others injured while engaged in acts of violence - even in defense of our people and country - makes me very proud of you. I do need to caution you though. There is a possibility, however slight, that this station, this hospital such as it is, may come under threat from the outside world."

She could see by the widening pupils of their eyes that she had their fully undivided attention now.

"In the event, should it ever happen, I will take whatever measures I deem necessary to defend this place and all those here whose well-being is entrusted to me. If that means the use of force I am prepared to do so. I do not wish to have to, but if push comes to shove I will. I am a caregiver first and foremost. I prefer to heal rather than cause injury. But the world being what it is today I am also realistic and know that I have to be prepared to help myself when need be, and perhaps to protect others who are unable to fend for themselves.

Again, in the event that danger should ever discover us and what we are doing I will do everything within my power to protect you and everyone else here. Just so you know I am armed. I have guns and I am carrying one now."

Now she REALLY had their attention. She could almost hear the crackling hiss of the electro-chemical impulses passing between neurons and synapses as they digested this new information. Would they decide that their decision to help had been made in error? Would they refuse to participate further and instead return to their families? The choice was theirs after all. They came voluntarily and could only remain in that capacity. Andrea could not, would not force anyone to act contrary to their conscience.

Jeanette finally cleared her throat, preparing to speak. Andrea unconsciously held her breath, waiting to hear what she might say.

"If I am to understand you correctly, you say that you will do what must be done to defend others here. Do I understand then that you do not expect us to take part in this, if it should happen as you say?"

Breathing out an audible sigh of relief without even realizing it, Andrea nodded affirmatively.

"Yes, exactly. I am not asking, or even suggesting that you take up arms, no matter what. I do ask though that you allow me to act as I believe required, and take measures to protect others, yourselves included. You may have to shelter patients or hide them, and most assuredly you would need to remain with them and provide comfort. But I do not expect you to fight unless you feel personally immediately threatened. Then allow your conscience and your beliefs to be your guide. I will not ask you to be untrue to your faith. My own faith would not allow that."

Sara then spoke up, apparently speaking for the others by silent assent.

"This is possible for us. We are not allowed to use firearms as you are, but we are allowed to assist others in ways that are not contrary to our faith. We thank you for respecting this. It is our hope that these things will not happen. No matter, we will face the days to come as we always have. For now we wish to assist you. This we believe to be a good…a moralishes… thing." The other to nodded their agreement as well.

"Okay then, it is unanimous. We are a team, and like every team we all have our roles to play. Now, who is the best cook amongst you?" Andrea's eyes gleamed with excitement as she said this, for having a designated cook would relief her of a great deal of responsibility.

Ruth shyly raised her hand after the other two first looked at each other, then at her.

"Okay, Ruth it is then. Ruth, once the supply truck arrives I will have all manner of foods and utensils here, more than enough to stock the kitchen and then some. Since we don't have air conditioning here and it is summer I think that for now we might set up an outdoor kitchen, to keep the heat down for the patients. The truck is also carrying shelter so we won't be bothered by wet weather. If we are still here come Fall and Winter the added heat inside the house will be welcome. Does this reasonable to you?"

"Oh yes, ma'am. It makes very good sense. I only hope that my skills are acceptable."

Andrea smiled at the inadvertent display of genuine modesty. "If the meal we just enjoyed was any indication I am sure they will be. You did prepare the blackberry pie, didn't you?"

Blushing now Ruth looked down, taking a sudden interest in her black tennis shoes. "Yes, Frau Whitewater. It is not difficult."

"Well, I can make a mean crust myself but I seldom bother with lattice crust for the top. The food supplies include a lot of raw materials instead of premixes so I am sure you will feel at home. So, the kitchen is your domain. I'll help you with certain food preparations for special cases, but we are going to be very heavy on proteins, just so you know."

Ruth only nodded, not trusting her voice to not display an unseemly pride at her rapid promotion.

Then, rapidly sizing things up within her mind Andrea went on to address the other two.

"Sara, you are the oldest and also from what you told me during supper have an interest in learning to be a nurse." Sara nodded keenly. "Right then. You will be my Senior Assistant. I want you to assist me as much as possible with the patients. I am also making you the Resident Advisor, just like a college dorm, for the other girls. You take charge of your room, see that whatever you need is taken care of, and make sure that no matter how many patients we see here that you and the other girls have your privacy. We will use the outer room of yours for any women we have as patients, if possible. That way you won't have worry about "strange men," she added an amusing emphasis to her words here to lighten the situation, "camped outside your door." She smiled to add to her emphasis. The girls laughed in return.

Now, Jeanette, you will also be an assistant. Your job will be to assist Sara and I as needed, or Ruth if called for there. One of us - Sara, you or myself - will need to be awake at all times to keep an eye on the patients. Ruth will be spending enough nights baking and cooking I am certain. I was promised more help in the future as patients arrive, but for now we'll manage between the 3 of us."

Standing up from her Indian-style seat on the front porch she made to clean up from their little picnic. Then pausing as another thought occurred to her, she spoke the ominous words.

"Ladies, remember what I said about being in communication with the outside world?" They nodded as they in turn arose.

"Well, word reached me earlier that our first patient is on the way, even before the supply truck arrives. We are going to find ourselves busy before the night is over."

How true her words were she could not have known.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Part IV

Dateline: PAS Virginia

Randy Harbors was very good at what he did, in spite of the shortcomings in his education. A 4th year medical student when the war broke out following the assassinations he had been within a few months of taking his boards and becoming a licensed physician. He planned - had been planning - to take a Residency in Emergency Medicine. He was 32 years of age, had been a practicing PA with a busy eastern states orthopedic group before he decided to take the next step, and knew his way around the triage area as well as anyone.

Finding himself out of school for the duration he at first was angry at having his future cut off so abruptly. Then, as he sat around and stewed about matters, silently cussing first one side than the other of the various would-be, had-been and were-now governments, he realized a personal epiphany. No matter what he thought of the previous administration at least they hadn't been the instigators of the current problems. Randy tended towards a modified liberalism in his thinking. He went into medicine because he genuinely wanted to help people, not to make a fortune doing so. His ego was well in check and his mind sharp, his dexterity better than average. He was a firm believer in social justice but also enough of a realist to know that people handed everything to them in the name of affirmative action would do nothing to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. He believed in racial equality but damned if he'd approve of reparations for something that occurred nearly 200 years before his own ancestors had ever set foot on American soil.

Nowadays he occupied himself with sewing up wounds and lacerations, tending to the surgical ward and assisting with procedures that were beyond his skills. Not that there were many, granted. He set his mown fractures in most cases and virtually always performed the casting for any ortho patients. He could place a traction wire as well as anyone else and had even placed a few basic screws when the much-harried doctor had been needed for another case requiring greater attention. He wouldn't dare crack a chest but he did open a couple of abdomens and perform basic exploratory laps. The regular docs (he still had a hard time thinking of the vet as a "regular" doc but he had transitioned well to the anatomical differences between humans and animals) would do a quick check to make sure he hadn't missed anything and did a couple of anastomoses found to be needed in perforated gut cases. He'd opened for a splenectomy and closed afterwards once the heavy stuff was out of the way. Yes, meatball surgery. You did the most for as many as you could and figured on cleaning up later when a safe area could be found or hostilities ceased.

Randy was working 18 hours a day, sometime less, oft times more, doing what he could as part of a team patched together from hither and yon. Damn! Why were they so short of help anyhow? With hospitals and care centers, clinics and everything else closed all over the eastern coastal areas as well as somewhat father west you'd think there would be more docs much less nurses and others who'd be willing to get involved.

The past week had seen 2 RN's, a psychiatrist who hadn't tossed in a stitch since his med school days, 5 more medics ranging from basic EMT's to a Critical Care Paramedic and a couple people who were at least willing to pass bedpans and administer spit baths come in and join the small medical group.

The shrink was okay, he guessed. At least the guy admitted up front he wasn't a general surgeon and wished to limit himself to mostly triage and follow up care. He did what he could as far as seeing to mental health needs of the patients, a couple of whom Randy had to admit were pretty screwed up with what the shrink said was "classic PTSD like I haven't seen in years." For now meds for helping them get some sleep were still in good supply and the doc was able to give them an hour of therapy every day. They seemed to be progressing any way. Likely though they'd be months if not years before they could fully function again without suffering the effects of flashbacks.

One of the RNs had worked acute care at a hospital that was now semi-rubble. What remained was poorly staffed and even more poorly supplied. She was efficient though, knew her stuff. If anyone could toss in a line she could.

The other nurse had sat at a desk for years doing insurance reviews. Her skills were rusty as heck but at least she was willing to learn. She'd only questioned one procedure before she was told - quite bluntly - that the goal was to return people to the front as quickly as possible, and save as many as could be saved and otherwise restore as much function as possible. They didn't have the luxury of waiting to see what nature would do for certain cases. The particular case was a damaged rotator cuff. As the surgeon put it "He probably won't regain as much function as he would have with a more conservative approach but he'll get most of it back, and a hell of a lot sooner. I don't see him coming back to sue me later in any case. First we'll have to see which of us survives that long."

Going about his work Randy nevertheless wondered privately if perhaps he couldn't be doing more. Not here, no. They effectively had two surgeons, leaving him as a supplemental set of hands. He was able to take on a lot of the lesser procedures, leaving them more time for complicated cases. He wasn't a hero, he admitted, and had no illusions about his skills, but he could not help but wonder if perhaps he couldn't be of more use elsewhere.

Dateline: Northeast Iowa

Karl was good, and had evidently put a lot of thought into matters long before now. As he told his old hunting buddy there was nothing wrong with a little pre-planning. He'd been ready since 9-11 (even today, 11 years later, no one had to ask what the speaker meant when they tossed the phrase out), making preps, plans and contacts. He was a lone wolf of sorts as far as his area went, by preference, but the "network" was anything but inactive or without various resources. Or so he told 'Rock.

3 men were concealed in the back to the SUT, now covered by the cap. Along with them were gear, supplies, and hope. Hope that their new buddy was as good as their sergeant apparently thought he was. The others waited back at the homestead, the HUMVEE well concealed now. Later, they were promised, they would be assisted in getting to a new area where their skills would be welcome. The fighting was spreading faster than even the media could keep up, and there were fights not yet met shaping up closer than they might believe. So they were told, so they accepted. For now they had safe haven, and strict instructions to remain out of sight for the next few hours.

In the cab of the SUT sat two men - Karl, the buddy, and Belloc, known to his friends as "Rock. The name fit him in description as well as convenience. His father was a fan of the writings of Hillaire du Belloc, and had insisted that no son of his was going to sport some country-western singer or soap opera idol's name as was fashionable at the time his son came into the world. No Colt, no Trevor, no Allen Michael for his son. He wanted him to stand out by name and deed. The old man must have been prescient in his thinking.

Talk in the cab was limited. Belloc trusted his buddy, always had. Today for some reason he found his trust approaching something like awe. Karl moved with determination and purpose. He'd made a couple calls, waited a bit and took an incoming call, then told the men not with them to stay put, where to hide their military vehicle and how. One would have thought the old earth-berm trench had been almost tailor-made for the purpose. In fact it had been but Karl didn't think he'd have to worry about seeing the folks' camper come to his place any time soon. They were safe enough out west in South Dakota without coming to his place and bunkering in.

Now they were on the road again with the destination firmly set in mind. The journey would only take a couple hours, and at that only because of the needed precaution of sticking to the back roads. Activity was drawing to a close for the day as the sun set lower in the early evening sky, so the chance of being caught by a prowling Deputy was slim to none. He'd be back home before sunrise in any case. He knew the area well, it having been scouted out years before when possible safe areas were being located. Granted, he thought, not with this purpose in mind but what the heck, no one actually foresaw the series of events that had taken place the last few months either.

His calls had paid off, as he had no doubt they would. In fact, even better than he had hoped. Everything he wanted was a short distance away during normal times, and wouldn't be that much of a problem reaching even now. The eventual destination for his passengers was an abandoned farmstead by St. Olaf.

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

The remainder of the battle was intense, and from the viewpoint of the Royal Guards, distinctly unsatisfactory. Oh to be certain they had wreaked havoc upon the town, if you could call their wanton destruction havoc as opposed to mere vandalism. That it accomplished anything of military value was purely in the eyes of the beholder. Entering the town in force in a shallow arc spread from the NE to the SE they came in firing at shadows. Though it made them feel as though they were accomplishing something they were in fact performing as their foes had hoped. Their random firing served to confuse the issue, unsure as they were where return fire was coming from at any time.

The Loyalist American force attached to the convoy was assigned the center of the arc. From the senior Royal Guard officer's viewpoint that represented the more dangerous position, and despite their seeming uncaring attitude about fighting against their fellow citizens he nevertheless felt better knowing his own men had their flanks enclosed should they hesitate to perform as he expected. Better the Americans - Loyalists or not - should take what he felt would be the brunt of any action than his own men. As it turned out though the center was merely allowed to enter while until then quiet areas on the periphery of the town became the points of contention.

It began with sporadic harassing fire. Seemingly unaimed, almost probing. It was almost impossible to tell from the volume whether they were facing semi-automatic, bolt or lever action weapons. The confusion was deliberately induced on the part of the defenders. They had no plans for a pitched battle, being far too few in numbers. Their turn for serious fighting would come later when they'd joined up with other elements. For now merely delaying the Guard forces and their turncoat allies was enough. Any casualties inflicted were icing on the cake. The name of the game here was harass, interdict, make 'em bleed a bit and withdraw without taking any casualties themselves. So far the patchwork plan was working. They'd already cost the Guards over 2 hours of delay and no doubt further delays down the road as they became extremely cautious.

The Loyalist force was at first hesitant when the first shots came winging their way, then derogatory when they saw they were no where close to the mark. They began to get careless after a few minutes.

"Hey! Chacka baby! D'ja see where that one come from?" The speaker was a shaved-head former white gangsta wannabe from east LA. He'd joined up when faced with an almost certain date with a few years inside the pen when other members of his gang were caught hitting a warehouse store a couple years before. Before anyone could start spewing names he'd made a beeline upstate until he felt safe for the moment, long enough to figure out he needed to get himself out off reach of the law for a while. Hey, what da heck, not like we wuz gonna be getting' in no mo' wars for a while, he thought. The US had pretty well slapped down the terrorists and their state sponsors, starting with Afghanistan, then Iraq, Syria, and North Korea. Libya had been left quaking on the vine, spouting subdued rhetoric while trying not to look TOO aggressive. China seemed to have embraced capitalism over world conquest for the time being and seemed content to continue to build a 3 ocean navy in spite of repeated warning of loss of favored trading nation status with the US.

Chacka, as his buddies called him, was the real deal. A former gangsta who took the deal offered by the recruiter: your choice of specialties and your juvie file erased upon completion of a 4-year hitch. He was trouble from the word go, quick to anger, just as fast to fight, and full of himself. In his mind he was a bad ass from sunrise to sunset and the time in between. The Army merely gave him the means to do what came naturally to him. It was sort of a case of "If you can't reform them at least control them." Thousands of dollars in juvenile reform programs and court oversight had produced nothing worthwhile. An older brother had left the streets and gone to first junior college, then a university. He was a safety engineer with a large construction company contracted to rebuild a time-ravaged freeway system in the Kansas City area. He'd gotten the message early on. His younger brother? He'd have to learn the hard way, turning his back on patriotism in doing so.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XI Part V

Dateline: Kentucky/Tennessee Area

Homegrown militia forces gathered quietly, under the very nose of the agencies that had long sought to suppress their growth and organization. Despite all the loud claims over the years that they existed with the sole purpose in mind of overthrowing the government they had never, ever, fired so much as a single shot outside the law. Today, all that would change. But only because the laws themselves had changed.

In spite of backing out of UN membership in 2004 the US had nevertheless never quite bothered to repudiate the World Heritage Site designations of many of the National Parks, Monuments and Forests. To this day the signs at the entrances still proclaimed Mammoth Cave to be a World Heritage Site. In fact the UN flag still flew over Park Headquarters on equal standing with the US flag.

Gathered in the hidden recesses of the forests of the Barren Lake area was a force of over 100 men and teen boys. Their ages ranged from 87 to as young as 14. Many of the men, and women, ranging in between had left to join the fighting out east and elsewhere. Those gathered represented those who had hesitated to commit at first, or were for various reasons unable to do so, or had been designated to remain behind in various capacities. A few had health problems that confined them close to home. They had no intention of going on the campaign trail for weeks or months. A few days, though, were manageable. A few days would all it would take. By then the patriot movement would have a secure storage and supply area courtesy of the cave system. First contributing to American independence in the War of 1812, when Mammoth Cave produced potassium nitrate used to manufacture gunpowder the great cavern would once again be a strongpoint in the fight for freedom.

To the south other forces gathered. Their plan? To take over the Tennessee Statehouse and return control of their state government to the people once more.

There were rumors flying about amongst the hundreds gathered that Governor Cyrus had made an urgent request for Loyalist troops to back up his State Police and other forces. He was anything but willing to give up his empire. He knew with that deep certainty that if the documents hidden away in dark closets ever came to light that his days on the earth would be numbered. His future as Governor, indeed his very life, depended on backing President Boxer and her allies - the Royal Guards and Loyalist Forces - in their bid to maintain control over the country. Too many families had suffered under the failing healthcare system in his state, never mind the economic failings he had engineered with his cronies while filling their own pockets.

The rumors also had the Governor requesting a battalion of Royal Guard troops to be stationed in the capitol area. Not only troops but also armor, which he promised to turn over from the armories dotting his state. Whether the rumors were true or not, no one seemed to know with any certainty but they served to stir up a bloodlust in the men and women gathering. One armory managed to "lose" several Bradley IFV's when they were called up for national duty. Others were down for maintenance or repair, a not unusual state when the military budget cuts of the past several years were considered. Only 35% of the armor inventoried at the armory was available for shipment, and at that it was grossly undermanned. Guardsmen refused to answer the national call up in even greater numbers than Reservists. There were few Tennesseans to be found amongst the Loyalist forces.

Dateline: PAS Convoy

A call was placed from a public phone in the small town of Moravia, Iowa to a cell phone.

"Dave's Limousine Service. Executive services our specialty. How may I help you?"

"Hi, this is Bryant Tarlton, of Spreichman, Kuntz and Tarlton. I'm in need of a very special limo rental for a top-level client. Am I calling the right place?"

Raymond sighed almost inaudibly. "Yes sir, you called the right place okay. How's a 6-door Hummer limo sound, complete with wet bar and satellite TV and phone?"

The caller was quick on the retort.

"Bet a fresh Mack tractor and a relief driver would go over even better. Whadda ya say? Be there in 10 minutes."

"I'd say that sounds right good to my ears. What about the other tractor? If we leave it sit here it'll be found sooner or later and that blows this shack as a cover. I mean, if we have to we have to. But we don't have an endless supply of resources and we might oughta need to use it again some day."

The anonymous voice hesitated only a moment. "Not to worry, 'Dave.' Come full dark it'll be gone and an old beater sitting in its place for a bit. The tractor is destined for an old coal mine area near Oskaloosa, last place they'd expect to find it is anywheres near so close to the scene. Everything's a worked out, no worry there. You folks holding up okay meantime?"

Ray looked over at his sister then responded, "Yeah, we're fine, just worried. Our guy oughta be reaching Bambi any time now if everything went okay."

"Yeah, that's affirmative. Got a report from our watcher at the 4-lane and they made it across without any problem. They aren't looking for cars, just trucks."

"Luckily for all of us."

"Yeah, you know it. Any ways, your horse oughta be there any time now."

"Thanks, friend," Raymond offered simply.

"It's all good. Thanks for doing business with us." The conversation ended there with a click indicating the caller had hung up. The cell phone Raymond carried was a prepaid unit that had been passed around for 3 years, always paid anonymously, occasionally used in order to look legit, and untraceable to any known person. Handy things, those prepaid phones. Expensive compared to the regular thing but they didn't dare leave a record of calls made or received on their personal units. They had in fact turned theirs off to avoid any chance of leaving a record as they moved from tower to tower. The 911 cell locator system could be both a blessing and a curse that way.

Turning to Charlotte he filled her in on the conversation. They both felt what could only be described as impending relief. Impending because the switch wasn't complete yet and the cargo not yet delivered, but help was minutes away. They might get the load through yet. Just as importantly they'd be able to find out for themselves how Leadfoot was faring.

Eight minutes after the phone conversation ended the roar and shifting gears of the semi-tractor could be heard approaching. Without hesitating the driver pulled into the abandoned farm drive and into the yard, stopping only when Raymond approached him out of the gathering shadows.

Leaning out the driver window the trucker addressed him with a jovial air. "Somebody call for Triple A?"

Responding in the spirit of the conversation Raymond retorted, "Yeah, we could use a tow. Think you can handle it without denting the fender?"

Putting the gears in park the driver opened the door and climbed down. Opening a side compartment door he withdrew a pair of 2'x2' steel plates and handed them to Ray. "Here, toss these under the front supports so we can shed the other tractor and get this one hooked up."

With a minimum of conversation the task was completed. As soon as the plates were in place the standing wheel assembly was lowered and locked into place and the original tractor started up and pulled away. Then the replacement Mack was maneuvered into position and the trailer locked onto it. The entire operation took no more than 5 minutes even in the relatively close confines of the crib. The relief driver pulled out the trailer and Raymond backed the White tractor back under cover. Then with nothing more to be done about it he left it for others to tend to.

The new tractor was turned off and the driver stuck his head and shoulders into the sleeper compartment. When he emerged he handed down a set of rolled vinyl sheeting. Here ya go, instant trailer disguise kit. Good thing someone was thinking ahead way back when."

Bringing out another set for himself along with a small can of what appeared to be adhesive he walked back along the trailer and set his load down. Raymond took his around to the other side and left it there and then returned. By then the driver was unfastening a pair of light metal ladders from the rear of the sleeper. They were a bit short but they'd have to do.

"Okay, here's the tricky part. We have to apply the glue to the backside of the banners then each of us grab an end and carry it up the ladder. It won't be perfect but it should pass muster at night. We can worry about fine details later for the return trip.

With Charlotte helping they managed to spread the adhesive sufficiently and get the banner raised up and suitably level along the side. Then with the help of a long-handled truck brush it was affixed from one end to the other. The end result, while not perfect, would pass cursory inspection. Satisfied with their work they then tackled the other side. By the time they finished the daylight was waning quickly. There remained only the rear doors to address. As the designated banner was smaller and in 2 pieces the job would go much faster. For this they risked a small hand-held florescent lantern.

At last, an hour and a half of frantic labor were finished. The truck trailer had a new life. Magnetic signs placed over the cab doors completed the disguise, along with a change in shirt for the driver. Affixed to the doors were signs proclaiming:

Leased to Wal-Mart, Inc.
Bentonville, AR

The driver, whose name was not offered but whom the tired pair of travelers recognized by sight, looked the part in the fake uniform shirt.




Dateline: Virginia PAS Convoy

The little 2-vehicle convoy was making good time. Small towns passed by the windshield with regularity. Towns with names like Camp Grove, Bradford, Buda, Normandy and Deer Grove. Crossing I-80 near the little burg of Annawan they continued northward. State Hwy 78 was minor as far as highways go and poorly traveled by anyone save locals in the best of times. Which is what they wanted. The fewer curious eyes the better. It also brought them to Prophetstown.

By now the crew was getting tired, the patients beyond tired. There were many slowings and turns, unfilled potholes and rough patches such as one tends to find on the lesser highway systems. The interstates were the major barriers now. There was no telling where a random inspection point might be set up at a crossover. From all reports, though, the authorities tended to ignore the service-less minor exits and concentrate on places where travelers - as few as there were - and truckers alike might be expected to pull off for fuel, caffeine or a toilet.

Diane grew increasingly restless. There hadn't been time to see to a somewhat worn suspension system on the motor coach and it was telling for her. Perhaps the next trip provided this one proved successful in all respects. Meantime the periods between doses of Demerol seemed to stretch on interminably from her viewpoint. Three to four hours seemed more like eight to ten.

The men seemed to be hardier. Seemed to be. They didn't enjoy the ride any more than Diane but they were loath in the fashion that men are to appear to be weak in front of the ladies. Each kept his thoughts to himself and asked as little of the crew as they could along the way. Urinals were made use of and emptied out the window as they traveled. A crude but effective system of avoiding filling the built-in potty the crew themselves depended on.

State 78 continued to carry them farther northward until they reached US Highway 30. There they risked a short jaunt eastward until they came upon a farm to market road that would carry them farther north. In this way they managed to avoid the more populous Clinton, Iowa area. Reports from friendly sources in the area said that there was increased official activity there, with the Mississippi River bridges the chief focus of attention. This was a carryover from the terrorist fears of the earlier and middle years of the past decade when a stolen semi tractor-trailer loaded with explosive compounds had been detonated in the middle of a bridge in the Memphis, Tennessee area in "05. Poor planning had caused the attempt to collapse the bridge to fail, fortunately, as the incident took place during the evening commuter traffic rush. The bridge was nevertheless closed for several months while engineering studies were made of the damage and repairs affected.

At the town of Fairhaven they dropped off their latest guide. From this point on they would be on their own until they reached the Iowa side of the river. The plan was to cross at Savanna, a minor crossing point mostly used by farm traffic and commuters. With no corresponding lock and dam in the area the aging 2-lane bridge didn't command the same priority as larger more heavily traveled bridges. Accordingly there weren't any guards expected to be present.

Dateline: Somewhere in Iowa

Fred Hawkins had not been idle since his "disappearance." What he had sold out of at the Des Moines Fairgrounds Show was only the tip of the iceberg. Stashed away over the years were numerous pieces and accessories that would prove useful in weeks and months to come. He had been careful to gather the items quietly, even more careful to stash them safely away. Beginning with the years of the Clinton presidency when it appeared that almost everything of interest in the way of so-called assault weapons might be banned he had made his investments.

Fred had made discreet inquiries since the mid-90's. Over time he came to recognize a few faces and names, and through low key conversations discerned certain trends. He had a fair idea of who was interested in what, and he surmised the why. There were people who would be lined up on both sides of the current conflicts. Some would take advantage of them for their own evil ends, to promote racism, anarchy, personal power gain or a misguided sense of nationality. They came in all colors, nationalities, political stripes and occupations. The one thing they had in common in his view was a secretive desire to see the downfall of the America he loved. They were in effect petty warring factions intent on destroying America and reforming it to their perverted image.

On the other hand there were those he was confident in his assessment of that wanted nothing more than to be left alone to work and live as free Americans, unthreatened by those that would enslave them. These were the targets of his attention, the ones he sought out now and offered to help, albeit discreetly. They were hunters and fishers, businessmen and women, politicians, law enforcement officers, active and separated military people, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, accountants, carpenters, Little League coaches and housewives. They were Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and the unaffiliated. They all had one common bond: no one was going to tell them how to live, or who, or what for that matter, to worship.

One factor counted in Fred's favor. He was the sort of fellow who went relatively unnoticed. His mannerisms, his style of dress, the vehicle he drove. He was Joe Average from the word go. In a crowd of 5 people he would attract the least attention. As a dealer he could negotiate a mean bargain while never appearing to do so. He was honest, he dealt fairly, and never gave anyone reason to feel they had come up on the short end. He also had a nose for interesting artifacts and bits of information. It was what that nose had picked up for all these years that was to serve him best.

In the town of Marble Rock there lived a grizzled old veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Now pushing 90 years of age he still possessed a very sharp mind. He and Fred had become casual friends years ago and still visited at the shows. Over time he'd made a few interesting finds, knowing that he'd find a ready buyer in Fred. The few dollars gained on these deals supplemented his retirement pension and he found diversion from a life hallmarked by family long since moved away in search of fame and fortune. His nearest living relative was a younger sister confined to a care center for several years by a chronic disease. Her family had long since moved away to the cities themselves, her husband having succumbed to a heart attack while in his 60's. Aside from the odd phone call or Christmas card she, like her brother, had no one close in the way of family. The brother and sister had only each other and their twice weekly visits. Soon they would begin to play the most important roles of their lives.

End Part V
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XI Part VI

Dateline: Near St. Olaf, Iowa

Karl drove with determination mixed with caution. No chances of him being stopped for excess speed or violating traffic laws but he wasted no time either. There was a lot at stake here and it involved more than the life of one man.

Stirring himself from his self-reverie Karl address the men in the back over his shoulder.

"How's your buddy holding up back there?"

Ken, one of the men riding with the victim and who had provided what little care he could, answered.

"He's pretty well unconconcious. Can't blame him, has to be easier on him that way. Pulse seems okay. Least it's there any way."

Karl nodded almost unseen in the looming twilight. "Okay. How's his breathing?"

Ken paused for a moment to place an ear near the man's chest. "Kinda fast. Sort of like he's snoring, kinda, but not really. Ya know what I mean" he implored, hoping the other man would.

"Yeah, probably because it hurts to breath and he's laying down. Don't worry, we're almost there. When the cavalry can't come to you you find them. Few more miles and we'll be there."

Ken nodded, unseen. The other two men accompanying in the back sat quietly wedged in amidst the gear in the cramped space. There might be room for two people to lay out inside normally but add a couple more and a small pallet of various gear and equipment and it made for cramped quarters at best. They sat, trying to avoid bumping into their injured buddy. All they could do was maintain a quiet vigil and trust to their sergeant's buddy.

Catching county road X26 the group made their way south until they came into the area of US Highway 18. From there it was only a couple miles eastward before catching County X28 south. A few more miles brought them to Farmersburg. Passing quietly through they continued to St. Olaf itself. They did not stop. There was no need to. Karl knew precisely where he was headed. He'd driven the route a few times over the years, one of the watchers over locations of interest in his area. Some where known only to him, others to trusted friends.

Belloc, for his part, was quiet. The area was relatively unknown to him. The countryside was hilly, interspersed with woodlands and fields, dairy farms and rocky outcroppings. The towns were small and neat, exhibiting the Old World heritage that they still clung to. He couldn't explain it but he felt that somehow safety, and aid for his man, would be found here. Here was refuge from the storm that was engulfing the nation.

The county road stretched before them in the gathering darkness. Somehow it almost seemed to mimic the state of affairs throughout the nation as a whole. Yes, that was it, Belloc thought, a gathering darkness and a road running through it. No telling quite where that road lead. One simply had no choice but to travel it and see what came of it.

The hills and isolated farms rolled by as they passed along, moving slower now on the oiled road. They were close, very close. No sense making Dan suffer any more than he was already. They rolled through a set of low laying hills and descended gently. A few lights could be seen in the distance from atop the cut through the hills. Distant, isolated, a small oasis here and there in the gloom.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Andrea and the girls had been busy for the past 30 minutes. Nighttime was falling and they hurried in the waning light. Patients! Already, before the supply truck could arrive! How was she to provide for them with what few tools she had at her disposal? No matter, it had to be done. There was no turning back, and at least she had help.

Quickly detailing the girls to set about preparing after their picnic supper and talk the place began to fall into order. Ruth was sent to set in place the camp stove and other items Andrea had carried with her. Intended for her personal needs rather than a group they'd be pressed into service. Surely only for a short time.

One of the sleeping mats was set up in the downstairs room designated to hold patients. For now two of the girls would share until the regular cots arrived, presumably the next day. Andrea expected that she might have little time for sleep herself and added her camping mat to the room. Lighting was seen to by the expedient of lighting lanterns after first making sure they were full. Thank God for Coleman, she thought. Even the Old Order Amish used them some places.

Her bag was readied along with a few other items she'd brought with her. The bulk of her personal gear was, of course, with the stranded truck. Fortunately, from what Clarence Emmons had said, the injuries to the driver didn't sound too bad. Likely she could successfully begin treatment with what she had on hand. Then a matter of a day's wait and she'd have the bulk of her supplies on hand. She'd worry about sorting through them afterwards. For now a decent bed and a few other items would serve her situation well, along with extended food stocks. Though she carried some with her as a matter of course she wasn't prepared to feed the extra mouths for very long without replenishment.

The house was ready; lanterns had been lit and hung as best could be arranged. Water had been drawn from the well and was being boiled for an extended period of time to kill off any likely microorganisms. The girls had put their things away and they were as set up as they could be for now. A few more items had been drug in from the machine shed that might be needed. If nothing else she had cleaning supplies and tools, that was certain!

Now there was little do but wait. Mr. Emmons had told her to expect one vehicle with her patient and a driver. She listened intently for the sound of an engine coming down the road. Blocked as the road was from the house by the trees she wouldn't know until they turned in if the vehicle were headed for her. The girls were busying themselves inside, assuring her that they would do what needed to be done to prepare for their expected guests. In addition to the water there would be a pot of coffee and there was food remaining from their meal to serve to the driver, and the patient if he was hungry and felt like eating and could.

Andrea heard an engine in the distance that seemed to slow and then go quiet. Perhaps someone from another farm. The sound had been faint and the hills in the area tended to block it in any case. It didn't seem destined for here so she renewed her vigil in the gathering dusk. Already the outbuildings were but pale shadows looming in the reddish-gray light of sunset. The nighttime animals were starting to chirp and whistle and buzz. If not for the situation across the country one might be excused for believing that all was well in the world. Just another night down on the farm, so familiar to her from her youth.

A husky male voice broke through her reverie, the speaker unseen amidst the trees. It was not loud but it carried in the semi-stillness of the night air.

"I'm told this might be the Bambi farmstead. If so I have business here."

Andrea was startled to say the least. She'd not heard anyone approach. Evidently whomever was out there could see her silhouetted against the escaped light from within. Her hand instinctively went around to her back, pulling up her shirt to expose the butt of her sidearm for use.

"Who told you that this might be the Bambi farm," she offered back. Inside she was almost shaking. A disjointed voice out of the trees was not how she'd expected her first patient to be announced.

"Some friends told me a Mrs. Whitewater runs the place, said she was a good person to know these days."

Andrea thought furiously. All this intrigue was somewhat new to her. Yes, she'd worked with the group on passwords and call signs and all the necessities of security. Aside from the Bambi designation though her nom de plume could have been picked up from any of the places she'd done business with recently. Neither drawing her weapon nor releasing the butt from her grip she moved a bit towards the slim shelter of the porch support.

Then she risked calling out again. "I'm Irene Whitewater, but you have me at a disadvantage. I have no idea who you are or even what you look like. Would you mind steeping out into the open a bit so I can at least see you?"

From inside the house she could hear shuffling as the girls caught the conversation. Thank goodness they didn't step outside! A low, friendly sounding chuckle came in response from the treeline. There! Near the larger pine, she was sure of it.

"Alright, you have a point. But would ya mind not pulling the gun on me when I step out?"

Andrea's face flushed at the realization that she had telegraphed her intent so clearly. Just as quickly it made sense to her. She'd reached for her back at the sound of the voice, then instinctively sought shelter behind the porch column. Just what anyone expecting a fight might do if they planned to offer resistance. She'd have to keep that in mind.

She brought her right arm around, hand empty, and at the same time her left arm also came up to show an empty hand. She remained where she was however, semi-hidden behind the column.

"Okay, that's fair. My hands are empty too. I'll stop once you can see me." The voice was accompanied by a quiet crunching that seemed deliberate, as if the walker could have moved without a sound. Just as they did when they approached through the trees to begin with, she thought.

A tall man appeared, standing perhaps 6 feet, stocky build, dressed in khaki BDU-type pants with cargo pockets. A shape attached to his right hip was likely a sidearm. He was careful to keep his arms out to his sides like a gunfighter in the old West showing he wasn't moving to draw. His face hinted at someone not much older than herself. His hair was semi-short, a subdued color t-shirt and sturdy work boots finishing his attire.

They each apprised each other. He of course could see her more clearly had undoubtedly studied her from the trees before chancing to speak. He gave her a moment to look him over while he returned her look with a steady, unflinching gaze.

"You must be the Denmother. I'm Rhonan. Sorry for the unannounced visit but some mutual friends down south said I'd find help for a friend. He's been in a fight."

Andrea quickly gathered herself and came off the porch. They approached each other and hands instinctively shot out to grasp in a firm handshake.

She wasn't about to let things go that easily, however. "You could have been a little more up front and have driven in. I was expecting you. How's the driver doing?"

Rhonan gave her a quizzical look in return. "Ma'am, I'm not sure who you was expecting but it sure weren't me. I'm down here from up north. Got a wounded man from the fighting up at Ft. McCoy. Friends told me about you and to head here. Said you have a small hospital here, could help us out."

Now it was Andrea's turn to be puzzled. This wasn't the truck driver then. Then who…

"Listen, lady. This guy's hurt pretty good. He's a ways from dying if I'm any judge of matters but he's hurt none the less. You open for business?"

End Chapter XI
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Patriot Aid Station Chapter XII – The Gates of Hell Open Wide

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

Chacka was a brute but he had street smarts. When it became apparent that the probing fire was poorly directed at best he grew increasingly bold. No doubt these pitiful farmers and hicks were too scared to actually take aim, he thought. It never crossed his mind that they didn’t have to aim – they’d already done significant damage to the column and inflicted casualties on men and machines alike and the Royal Guard/Loyalist forces had yet to see a single enemy combatant firsthand.

Identifying a building from which some of the shots seemed to come from he tossed a fragmentation grenade then dove behind a dumpster. The grenade landed just below the window from which the shots seemed to erupt in sporadic fashion. That oughta fix whoever was inside, he thought. The blast tore a modest hole in the front of the frame building.

Emerging from his temporary safety he was at first frozen to the spot, then diving back behind his refuge as a quick 3-shot string came out of the same window. Crap! They must be sandbagged inside!

“Hey, Psycho!” he called to one of the other men. Psycho, who’d picked up his nickname for his sometimes-aberrant behavior and always cold, piercing manner of looking at people with unflinching eyes, raised his head briefly in acknowledgement.

“Yeah, what?”

“Cover me, man. I’se gonna get that dumn bastid inside dere. He gonna think the whole damn Army a comin’ through the winder.”

“Check.” That was it. Psycho had a habit of saying that to let you know he’d heard you. Whether he’d agree with you or not was another matter. Since the invasion had started he’d grown colder if anything. No one could say what motivated him these days.

Assuming that he’d be covered Chacka made ready to rush the building. He was bad, man! Weren’t nothing going to stop him from wasting whoever was inside now, sandbagged position or not. His M4 set to burst, another frag carried in his right hand, he felt invincible in his added coverage level 4 vest and improved kevlar helmet, items which only the regular forces had been issued for the past few years and virtually no Reserves much less Guards. He was bad to the bone in his mind. Now it was time to get him a promo, do the deed, save the day. Even that stupid camel jockey officer would see that.

“Do it, man,” he called to Psycho. As soon as the other soldier tossed a few rounds at the window Chacka began his rush, angling in such a way as to bring him to the side of the building without crossing in front of the window. Panting as he reached the relative safety of the corner he caught his breath for a moment as Psycho poured in another 3-round burst. Elsewhere there was intermittent firing punctuated by the odd small explosion as the other troops fought small skirmishes. Dark eyes, the skin surrounding them subdued by greasepaint, watched with interest, sizing up the foes for another battle yet to come.

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

Davey’s mother was not exactly warm to the idea being presented to her by her father but she didn’t object. She was as much a player as her father was, and as her husband had been while he was still alive. It wasn’t as if there was any real danger. No more than any other time Davey and a couple of his friends took off for a couple of nights of camping in the hills. She’d merely packed the food the boys would need and made sure he had every thing he’d require. After a motherly embrace and admonishment to stay out of trouble she gave him over to her dad.

Roger, Davey’s best friend, also came from a family likewise in the know. The group had been formed long ago and the children born to the marriages over time before and following were carefully brought up with conservative morals in mind. They had been taught responsibility and respect, and above all that what was discussed in their respective houses remained there. Fortunately the school system in the area had never been “enlightened” in its views. There were never questions of whether parents kept guns in their houses, or alternative history lessons taught. Ancestral heritage was something that bound people of common lineage together but was itself not a way of life to the exclusion of the rest of the world.

The common heritage of the community was Luxembourgian but that didn’t extend to adopting the traits of the European Union that predominated life in modern Luxembourg. The views of the majority of the residents were solidly middle-class Midwestern Americans. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who sympathized with the new government. Hard pressed but they would not come up empty-handed.

Now tramping along the back paths that wound through the hills outside of town Davey and Roger practiced their woodcraft. They skirted working farm dwellings and well traveled roads. They knew the area for several miles around the community well, having spent the kind of summers and spring and fall afternoons in activities that only the young growing up in small town America could. Camping and traipsing through the countryside came naturally to them as a result, as did hard work.

Tonight they would establish their alibi by setting up their camp in a location where their small campfire would be seen from a distance. Doubtless parents would be called and politely asked if the boys were on another of their forays. Informed that they were the caller would engage in polite chat for a few minutes, of course assuring the mothers that if the boys ran into any trouble they would find haven with the caller and a ride back home if need be. It was a ritual that had gone on for years. Many times the parents themselves had engaged in such activities. Knowing that it was Davey and Roger they’d also know there would be no empty beer cans to be picked up while working the fields, no broken fences and no chance of the campfire getting out of control. Life was still simple that way in the shallow valleys and hills of northeastern Iowa.

Come the false dawn of early morning the boys would quietly break camp and move on. But rather than to another site farther in the hills they had a particular destination in mind. One that promised hard work, a barn for shelter, and intrigue.

Dateline: Des Moines, Iowa

“By order of the Governor of the Great State of Iowa, in union with the legitimate government of the Peoples’ Republic of the United States and the duly recognized President thereof, Madame Hillary Boxer, it is hereby declared that the following measures be enacted forthwith, ratification of same which is expected by the Iowa Legislature during their next scheduled session of 2012:

Item I: Henceforth all law enforcement officers not otherwise under the employ of the Sheriff of their county of residence shall report to and consider themselves part of the State Police Force, as per the provisions of Section 32, Chapter 183.3 of the Iowa Code. Overall command of said forces shall be organized and directed by the Dept. of Public Safety.

Item II: Henceforth all emergency apparatus not operated by private concerns, and otherwise under the ownership of the various and sundry municipalities chartered by the State of Iowa shall be remanded to the direct control of the Unified State Emergency Command.

Item IIa: Henceforth all privately held emergency apparatus, including but not limited to ambulances, wheelchair transport vans and buses, handicapped transport vans and buses, security agency cars, armored transports and fire apparatus shall be considered as lawfully authorized auxiliary units subject to command and control by the Unified State Emergency Command as deemed necessary during times of civil unrest, natural disaster or other states of emergency as may be determined to exist by the Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa.”

The speaker, Bob DeNiro, droned on seemingly without end, adding provision after provision to the declaration that had finally been signed by the Governor under authority granted to that office his authority to act the Emergency Powers Act of 2004.

“Item XIV: Henceforth the State Secretary of Agriculture shall, at his discretion, during such states of emergency as shall be designated by the Office of the Governor, direct an accounting of, and the holding in trust of, all such grains, feeds, silage and produce contained within commercial agricultural storage existing as of this date within the State of Iowa, not to be released except as directed by the Secretary of Agriculture for the relief of the citizens of Iowa and such states as may be designated as disaster zones in need of relief.”

The proclamation just got worse as DeNiro continued to speak to the assembled retinue of reporters and political opportunists. Some seemed to regard attendance at the formal announcement of the proclamation as akin to making the society paper lists of Who’s Who In the News. They were eager to be seen as joined in support of their governor no matter what he said. Not only were they present to run elbows with what they saw as the up and coming party in power but also to keep tabs on others present. In a way the entourage resembled the royal courts of old, complete with hidden intrigues and power plays as the courtiers jockeyed for positions of favor.

However, one person in attendance had no desire to be associated with the others. Instead they were there merely to report to various groups scattered throughout the state. From there the news would spread quickly across the country. Rather than paying attention to the wording of the proclamation he was watching the faces of the others present. Was that a frown he saw on the face of the Bureau Chief from Public Health? Mental note made of a possible opportunity. The expected silly grin on the face of the Secretary of Education was no surprise. No doubt she was hoping for authority to enact even more sweeping reforms. Compulsory transcultural acceptance education in the grade schools would suit her views just fine. Anything to bring control of young hearts and minds more within her grasp. Thankfully there didn’t seem to be enough pieces to this bitter pie for her to have a share.

“Item XIX: Any person operating an unlicensed transmitter shall be charged with a Class D felony, the penalty for which shall be fixed at not less than 120 days incarceration in a facility intended for such purpose as designated by the Prison Services Bureau Chief of the Dept. of Public Safety.”

A broad smile from the Iowa Communications System Manager there. Unlicensed? Hell, FRS radios were unlicensed transmitters. Always had been. They were exempt from licensing by intent because of their low power and limited range. No doubt one of those general catchalls that could be used or ignored as the law saw fit. Another person to keep an eye on.

“Item XX: No person shall print, publish or otherwise cause to be manufactured any newspaper, news sheet, informational bulletin or community bulletin, book, magazine or newsletter, nor cause to be distributed any such publication by any means whatsoever, including electronically, that is not otherwise duly licensed and approved by the Bureau of Publications. Said Bureau is hereby declared to be a legal and lawful agency of the State of Iowa and accorded all responsibilities thereof as designated by the Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa.

The watcher almost laughed at that one. Were they going to ban church bulletins too? How about civic group newsletters? One did wonder if that applied to advertising circulars, he mused to himself.

“Item XXII: Henceforth the sale of all repeating firearms of greater than .177 caliber shall be suspended save to lawfully designated purchasers presenting a valid Firearms Ownership and Purchase Permit. Said permits are to be issued at the discretion of the local Sheriff and subject to approval by the office of the Director of Public Safety.”

Which meant that if you were not a friend of the administration it didn’t matter what the Sheriff thought. Clever ploy, that. Seem to recognize local autonomy while in reality tying their hands.

“Item XXIIa: Sales of all munitions of greater than .177 caliber shall be by permit only as described in Item XXII. “

Whew! At least we’ll have ammo to feed our non-restricted Daisy Red Ryder air guns. What a relief.

In all DeNiro read off a list of 30 changes to the way state government would be amended. Changes that would restrict free commerce, interfere with emergency response, create a state-wide police agency, curtail free speech and in general raise the ire of the better citizens and boost the fence sitters into action. Since this was an election year one had to wonder what further surprises Governor Balsack had in mind. Certainly he didn’t believe free and honest elections would see him retaining his office. Not after this in-your-face mess.

End Part I Chapter XII
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XII Part II

Dateline: Marble Rock, Iowa

The Marble Rock Rest and Rehab Center was the sort of place that didn't draw attention. It was just another nursing home, after all, of a style that had been pressed out time after time like a cookie cutter. It was managed as an independent franchise reporting to a small conglomerate that took just pride in the quality of care its affiliates provided. The corporate motto read in fact "Compassionate care, at an affordable cost."

Myrtle had been a resident there for some 9 years now. She had outlived many but not all of the clients who had been in residence when she first arrived. Over the years she had seen staff come and go; families, residents, and doctors as well. She has successfully established herself as an institution within an institution. She presided over the Residents' Council, was active in the thrice weekly bingo games and always attended the lectures and movies and occasional dances, though she herself was unable to do more than watch in the latter instance.

Cedric, her brother, always brought her something when he visited. The moment he walked through the door there would be greetings offered by everyone present. There was Darlene, afflicted with Huntington's Chorea. Though unable to speak and possessed of questionable perception she always seemed to know when Cedric arrived. She became more active and her face would turn towards the front doorway and a flicker that passed for a smile these days would grace her face.

Doris, the head cook, would smile and rush out the give Cedric a big hug. During the summer months she would often as not receive a bag with fresh produce for her efforts. Several people brought in homegrown vegetables and fruits but Cedric was the most prolific. "I want my little sister to have some fresh veggies 'stead of that canned limpy stuff" was his usual remark.

The nurses likewise greeted him enthusiastically. He was always there to help come fair time, with his garden tractor hitched to a small wagon that seated a dozen people. Those who were able to sit without special support would be loaded on and driven around the fairgrounds, through the horse, sheep and cattle barns, down the wide aisles of the commercial building and over to the tractor and horse pulls when they were scheduled. A wide striped canopy overhead kept the sun off of them as they road around in grand style.

The head nurse, a RN named Terry, would get up and stand there with her hands on her hips, a broad grin on her face, as she watched Cedric approach the nurses' station. "Well, Ced, what'd you bring to stash in Myrtle's barn this time?"

Myrtle's barn, or rather her very own private storage shed in back of the care center, was a running joke between them. The land belonged to an ag machinery dealer who used the lot for storage. Cedric had wangled a 20-year lease of a small portion of the land adjacent to the care center for the express purpose of erecting a "hobby shack." There he built a 540 square foot cabin complete with full width front porch accessible to a wheelchair. He figured 20 years would be more than enough, and at the end of that time it would revert back to the owner of the land. Inside he installed the things that Myrtle had loved; her antique Victrola hand-cranked phonograph, a White Oak woodburner finished with polished chrome fittings, an old-fashioned settee still covered with the original horsehair material. The walls were covered with pictures Myrtle had painted once upon a time and her brushes and oils were still available for those occasions when her hands would allow her to paint a few strokes.

The far wall was lined with all manner of cabinets. Some were locked, others not. The contents could only be guessed at by most, but every so often Ced would open one for show, revealing cut glass pieces, or carefully preserved lace hats or stacks of old Life magazines or kitchen implements.

Once in awhile Cedric would bring in a piece of furniture to refinish. He'd make a show of it, out on the porch, then hauling it inside. Perhaps it would remain or perhaps it would be carried away to be sold, another to take its place later. Occasionally a wooden crate or two would go in or out. No one paid any attention these days. Cedric was considered as harmless as he was generous, which was to say, a lot. The antiques were all the explanation needed for the alarm system and security lighting. Ced paid the electric bill and the care center benefited from having the rear entry area lit at night at no cost to them.

Myrtle, for her part, was free to roam out to the cabin on her little Rascal motorized scooter. Occasionally she'd take a guest or two to ooh and ahh over the antiques, to become lost in the memories brought by the old Victrola, or just to enjoy the bone-penetrating warmth of the White Oak in the winter. The front porch also served as an impromptu BBQ shack a couple times every summer as well. Several friends of Ced's, "from the lodge" he'd always claim, would join him to grill burgers and steak fries and bake potatoes for the enjoyment of the residents next door. It all seemed so quaint and harmless….

Dateline: Virginia PAS Convoy

The crossing at Savanna had gone without a hitch. As expected there were no guards, no tolls, just a quiet 2-lane bridge slated for replacement in a couple of years, as it had been since the turn of the century. Once across the Mississippi the little 2-vehicle convoy made their way through Sabula, then Miles, Preston and finally Maquoketa, where they caught State 428, following it until it joined with E17. That route took them to a rendezvous with Y31, which turned them back north. The road wasn't designed for rapid travel but it was considered safe with little save for local farm-to-market traffic. State didn't patrol it and County seldom did more than once per day. Eventually they made their way up to US Hwy 20, a modern 4-lane divided hiway. Jumping on at Peosta they headed west towards Dyersville, home of the Field of Dreams and Ertl Toys, both regular tourist destinations. Motor homes were a very common sight in the area, even from Canada. The numbers were down this year but who was going to complain when one did come along? Motorhomes meant tourists, and that meant money.

Now things were getting interesting. They were close to their destination and they had to move carefully. No speeding, no forgetting to use turn signals or passing no matter what. After all, they weren't in a hurry. The conflicts were far away and they were just vacationers seeking peace and quiet and distraction.

From Dyersville they took D22 until it crossed X47. The road was smooth and paralleled US 20. X47 was at least straight, a welcome relief in the mind of the drivers, if a mite hilly. Passing through Colesburg they continued until they reached county road X3C. The idea was to stick to back roads now, without resorting to farm-only roads. Little chance of official presence on those, but the locals were sure to wonder these days. Unwanted attention they could ill afford, especially so close to their destination.

Elkport and Garber were no obstacles. The sun had set now and they were traveling in darkness. Soon it would be time to pull over for the night, were they in fact tourists. They had very little more to go. There seemed little risk.

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

The soldier was in trouble. It had been hours since he was wounded. His burns, not ordinarily life-threatening under normal circumstances, now threatened to cause his demise. By her estimation some 35% of his body was affected. There were patches of 3rd degree burns surrounded by 2nd degree areas, with a few smaller patches of 1st degree damage. The man required a burn center, which in his case meant incarceration sooner or later. Probably sooner. Survival outside a burn center meant significant scarring, because the 3rd degree burns could not be grafted. It was well outside her skills, not to mention her means even had the expected supply truck arrived already. Someday, she said to herself. Someday he can get the grafting done he'll require. But first he needs to survive acute dehydration and fight off the infections that are certain to set in.

The Amish girls were at first aghast then mute when the buddies carried their colleague inside. The soldiers, for their part, were open-mouthed at the sight of the girls. To their minds it was like stepping back in time to see young ladies dressed as they were. None of them had ever encountered Amish or Mennonites before.

Quickly taking control of the scene Andrea had the men place their buddy on the floor for now. She did a rapid assessment of the type that medics are trained in, taking 30 seconds to form an evaluation of the injuries, her patient's overall health status, and his immediate needs. The airway; always first priority. His respers were strained. The dehydration was having its effect. In essence his lungs were being deprived of the moisture they needed to function optimally. There was also the question of whether or not he had inhaled at the moment of the blast, perhaps searing the bronchus or even farther down.

She didn't have oxygen available - yet - so she decided on the next best course of action: rehydrate him. Taking a SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess) borne of years of experience she estimated that he had lost some 6 liters of fluids from his system via the hemorrhage, which thank God wasn't bad and had completely stopped save for some serous oozing, and the loss caused by the damaged skin. The disrupted skin caused the majority of the fluid loss. Skin, the largest organ of the body, the one that kept us from dehydrating by mere evaporation. That meant he needed half the fluids - 3 liters - over the next 8 hours, then the other half divided up over the remainder of 24 hours, or 1,500 ml per 8-hour period. And that was just to get him back to where he should be. His BDU pants were dry in the crotch. No incontinence and he didn't appear capable of holding his urine voluntarily. Further evidence of his dehydrated state. The kidneys would conserve fluid. But eventually he'd need to void or face organ failure from the toxic effects of the built-up urea in his system. Better add another liter for the first 8 hours and another divided over the next 16. That meant 8 liters in all for the first 24 hours of care. Andrea had a total of 2 liters of solution in her bag and a couple more in the Blazer she had tossed in on a whim before she left the house for the last time. She had according to her calculations 16 hours of fluids.

Belloc had detailed the other two men to stand security around the house while Andrea worked. They went, reluctantly, after casting pleading glances in Andrea's direction. She was unaware of them intent as she was upon her patient. Digging into her bag she withdrew her IV supplies and laid them out in scattered fashion upon the floor within easy reach. The girls watched intently, as did Karl and Belloc. Selecting a 16 ga catheter Andrea opened it and set it close to hand. Then she grabbed the nearest arm and tore the ragged sleeve, exposing the anticubital fossa. A povidone-iodine wipe was torn using her teeth and she grabbed up a tourniquet with the other hand. The opened packet remained clenched in her teeth, ready for use.

Speaking over her shoulder she addressed the two remaining men. "Either of you know how to spike a bag and prime the line?" Karl didn't answer; he just reached down and grabbed up a bag of Ringer's lactate and a tubing set. Andrea received her confirmation when she heard the outer bag tear open.

Applying the tourniquet just tight enough to restrict peripheral blood return but not the deeper, better-protected arteries, she grabbed the wipe and swiped the area in a circular motion, making quick loops from the inside outward. There wasn't time to worry about possible iodine sensitivities. The man was covered in grime from the battlefield and she wanted a reasonably aseptic field for the venipuncture.

With grim determination she picked up the prepared catheter and made to stab the vein lurking under the surface. So dehydrated was the poor fellow it didn't stand out as it should have. There was only the barest hint of greenish shadow. The lighting in the room was anything but optimal, the sun having set and the lantern being the primary light source now.

A quick practiced motion and she was through the skin. A faint "pop" was felt as she penetrated the vein wall. There was no quick return in the flash chamber. When it appeared after a couple of seconds it was sluggish.

She released the tourniquet and pulled the introducer needle out, pressing on the end of the catheter where it lay inside the vein so that it wouldn't leak blood. The now useless needle was dropped to the floor beside the arm. Karl dangled the free end of the line in front of her. She grabbed it and plugged it into the hub, then turned enough to grasp the roller clamp and open it. Her efforts were rewarded by a free flow of fluid and no sign in infiltration at the site.

The line in place and the fluid flowing freely she then grabbed a roll of 2" foam tape and set about securing the catheter, then the tubing. No fancy chevrons or torn tape strips here. Andrea had learned during her time in ER that speed and security counted. 2" tape meant both, and the foam tape she favored stuck to all but the most diaphoretic patient. First a strip across the hub. Then another across the tubing connector so that it was secured separately from the catheter. The tubing was quickly doubled back onto itself and another piece passed through the loop. Any tugging on the tubing meant the force would be against the loop and not the connector facing the other way. Then another piece of tape securing the tubing to the upper arm a few inches above the insertion site. The first line was in.

End Part II Chapter XII
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XII Part III

Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

"Davey?"

"Yeah?"

"You scared? I mean, with the war on and everything?"

"What's to be scared of?"

"I dunno. Nothing I guess. Just wondering."

"'Fraid someone'll talk and we'll all be found out?"

"Nyaah, that ain't it. I mean…. Okay, suppose, just suppose…."

Davey waited patiently in the dim firelight, resting on top of his sleeping bag while Roger came up with a cogent way of expressing whatever was on his mind. Roger had always been the 'what if' type, forever thinking through possible scenarios and coming up with sometimes bizarre questions about things that might go wrong. Scenarios like 'what if the campfire got away from them and they found themselves surrounded by a sea of flaming grass' (when he was 6 years of age and camping in the backyard). Or if they (usually just David and himself, sometimes with a couple of other boys) 'were overrun by a band of Mutant Zombie Bikers' (a term he'd picked up from an action-adventure novel last year) while camped out in the hills.

"Okay, remember how the Air Force has these super spy satellites that can read a newspaper from 250 miles up? Suppose they saw us helping out over there, and they decided to send some troops to check us out. I mean, just suppose."

"Uhhh, Rog? Remember what we learned about optics and atmospheric distortion in science class last year?"

"Yeah, but what's that got to do with it?"

Davey snorted in mild derision. "Everything, dummy. Remember what Mr. Auriano said? That it's theoretically possible but mechanically impossible. You'd have to have a better than perfect lens 3 feet across, absolutely 100% perfect air temperatures and zero cloud cover. Even if you had all of that there'd be gases we can't see that would distort the picture. Like, uhhh, greenhouse gases or something."

Roger seemed to dwell on all of that for a moment but he wasn't quite ready to give in yet. "Okay, but just suppose. The weather is great, they got this super new satellite we ain't heard of yet, and they have some sort of facial mapping software thing they use with it."

Davey grunted in sincere derision now. Roger may be his best friend but that didn't mean he wasn't sometimes a bulb short of making a chandelier.

"Okay, assuming all that and stuff, where's all this data coming in at?"

Roger shrugged virtually unseen on the other side of the campfire. "I dunno. The big spy headquarters they got out east I suppose. Where else?"

"Braaaaakkkkk! Wrong answer! They don't use those kind of satellites. You're talking about the Puzzle Palace. Those guys do signal intel stuff. Don't you remember in that book you read? They spy on phone conversations. They don't look for secret bases and things using cameras. They intercept data and sort it out."

"Okay smart guy then where do they get the picture signals at?"

Davey knew he'd bested his friend again. Roger was more the daydreamer type and the athlete, while Davey preferred working with his hands when he wasn't busy reading everything he could find in print or on line. Each had their respective strengths of character. Davey's simply happened to be a better memory for facts and figures coupled with budding mechanical aptitude.

"Cheyenne Mountain," he stated simply.

"Where's 'at?"

"Colorado, near Boulder."

"They get the pics at a mountain? What good's that do?"

"Ever here tell of NORAD?"

"Sure, who hasn't. I mean they were the ones that found that RPV that the tangos were using to spray the virus stuff with down in Florida a few years ago. Nailed that one big time with their spy satellites."

"Yep, same bunch alright. But that was something with a wingspan over 20 feet wide, too. Just showed up while they were doing some studies of a new system, they said. They only figured it out because it was moving at a constant speed across the pics."

"Okay, but what do they have to do with the satellites. They get the pics. The bozos in Washington still own NORAD, right?"

"Own, sure. But they don't control them these days. They about went apeshit…"

"I'm gonna tell!" Roger crowed at Davey's use of a mild profanity, something he knew Davey's mother abhorred.

"You do and I'm gonna tell your folks about you trying to smoke cornsilk."

"How'd you…oh, never mind. I forgot I told you. Made me sick as a dog, too."

"So anyway they refused orders from out east to turn their satellites off things in the other countries and focus them on the US. Said they'd continue to protect the national interests but the way they saw it that didn't include feeding data to one side or the other here until things were sorted out. Washington couldn't do much because they can't get enough troops out there that can be trusted. NORAD was built to survive the atom bomb. Take a scad of special troops to overrun that place, if they could. They'd just seal of The Hole and sit inside for a couple years. Sort of a stalemate my grandpa says."

"Pretty smart."

"Yeah they are. Figured out how to disobey orders without actually disobeying them."

"I mean your grandpa."

The sounds of creatures in the night broke the silence that ensued. Davey needed no confirmation that his grandfather was pretty smart. He'd known that all of his life.

Dateline: Eastern United States

The exodus was at first a trickle, then a rush. Literally tens of thousands of people packed up and began the journey eastward. Some from as far away as California, others from outlying areas of the eastern states. All were intent on reaching the "safety zones" the new government had proclaimed as "the only areas where we can offer a reasonable guarantee of your safety while our valiant scientists and medical researchers develop new treatments in the fight against these horrid scourges unleashed by inhumane enemies of the people."

It was all a scam on a large scale. Tularemia? Endemic in some areas of the west, with perhaps 30 people infected in a bad year. But it sounded scary. They'd weaponized it you know, the Rebels. Fanatics, that's all they were. Just plain fanatics who couldn't leave well enough alone.

Smallpox. The great plague of modern times. Most Americans knew of the reports from a few years past, if they hadn't actually known someone, or someone who knew someone, who'd been affected. Despite years of public health bulletins and education many people still were not convinced that it wasn't airborne.

"I know they just want us all where they can keep an eye on us, but I've got family to think of," was the common reply when people were asked by friends and neighbors why they would relocate, even "temporarily" to the eastern states. Hadn't the government said they had safe corridors to travel? Why, you could even fly on a commercial airliner to Knoxville, TN or Akron, OH and get aboard a special charter that would take you east. Local authorities would watch after you until government officials could process you in once you reached a "safe area."

Travel was still relatively uncontested. So long as you were traveling into and not out of the eastern states. Out east you could travel westward, but you risked arrest if it appeared you were aiding the Rebel forces, or trying to move your family. "Sure, mack, just a routine sales trip. You always take the wife and kids and 16 pieces of luggage along with the dog. Why don't you just pull into the weigh station there while we check out your credentials."

Many people simply stayed where they were, or quietly tried to go about their business. After all, it wasn't as if there were mass armies sweeping the landscape. The battles were confined to a relatively few areas. Neither side enjoyed an overwhelming superiority in numbers. The US had most of its troops overseas as they had been for years. Those that remained took their orders and said nothing to the contrary, or got the heck out of Dodge and joined up with the Rebels. The civilians were caught in the middle, having no loyalty oaths to worry about, many not caring about a change in government, and as always no few believing whatever propaganda was stamped with the official endorsement of the government.

End Chapter XII Part III
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XII Part IV (continued from above scene)

There was, however, a strong current of unrest. Americans, so used to having everything they wanted immediately available, were having a tough time coping with shortages of materials, parts, favored foods, the exact make, model, color and interior options for that new sports car or SUT. As the conflict wore on Joe Public, as he was wont of doing, grew bored.

More to the point the media, which had for decades held to its own agenda and regarded itself as the judge of what the public wanted to know ("We don't ask. We tell them!") decided it was time to divert attention away from fighting in the eastern states. The Boston Globe, which had long regarded itself as "a fair, unbiased guardian of the truth", launched a series of reports centering around a planned overhaul of the government that would ultimately lead to "a Fascist regime unaccountable to the people." The intent seemed to be one of justifying the "benevolent foreign assistance" being received by the government-in-power, completely ignoring the undeniable fact that governance under the new occupants seemed centered around Executive Orders and a mish-mash of rubber-stamped laws coming out of the reformed and reduced Congress. Anyone with a modicum of critical thinking skill would have asked themselves first what evidence the Globe had that supported such a notion, and second, what the difference was between Fascism and the new trends coming out of what remained of the Capitol.

Die-hard party hard-liners agreed with the new policies. They practically fell all over themselves in their rush to offer their vocal support for price and wage controls, renewed subsidies for education ["Every child a diversified and tolerant Citizen"], restrictions on inter-state commerce and Most Favored Nation status with several Mid-Eastern states that, amazingly, seemed to have little to offer for export aside from petroleum, phosphates and palm dates, along with relatively small quantities of textiles. Though they did seem to have more than enough in the way of troops and munitions for export. Even China, once the reigning giant amongst exporters to the US, lost favor. So much so that the Chinese delegation downgraded their embassy to a consulate, effectively snubbing the new government in a way that cost them a massive loss of face. Officially the ambassador suddenly took ill and had to return home and there was no one to replace him. Unofficially many of the departing delegates stopped short of the Pacific, instead remaining behind in Long Beach as an authorized legation "for purposes of re-establishing the gainful trade amongst our two great nations."

Dateline: North Dakota

The northern John Muir Brigade contingent continued to liven things up as they traveled. The urge to wreak environmental terrorism along the way was just too string to resist. Bolstered by what they considered their "successes" and puzzled by the reception they received on the Reservation they found time to set fire to a large agricultural plant outside of Fargo, N.D. In their minds they were justified, because the plant had after all only served to "feed the bloated ambitions of wealthy capitalist industrialists (that they were confusing their environmental concerns with the views of Karl Marx seemed to escape them) who would rape the earth with their unwholesome hybrids."

In their colored view of the world anything that wasn't a naturally occurring product of evolution was poisonous, intended to weaken the body and pollute the mind. Whereas whatever nature provided was "like, awesomely beautiful, man. Like, if Gaia made it it's good for you. Your body needs it." Someone forgot to tell them that their mythical earth goddess also created strychnine, a naturally occurring plant alkaloid poisonous to humans in small doses, though it is not entirely without medical benefit for certain conditions and used in tightly controlled doses.

Aside from their occasional forays into eco-terrorism the Brigade proceeded towards their eventual goal of southeastern Iowa. They planned to join forces soon with their other two partners in terrorism, still unaware of the fate that had befallen the group traveling through Nebraska. Once rejoined they planned their version of Sherman's March. Only this time there wouldn't be any friendly lines to return to save in their own fantasies.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XII Part V

Dateline: Rolls-Royce Plant, Mount Vernon, Ohio

"Mother" Maggie offered an exemplary performance that day. Almost single-handedly she forestalled any reinforcements from reaching the inside of the plant. Without the desperately needed additional manpower the fate of the NRRT personnel was decided on the basis of who was more determined to win out rather than who could field more armed troops.

The police sergeant never stood a chance. While he pondered which his limited choices as how to handle the situation Maggie came up with one he hadn't considered: she attacked full force.

No Italian grandmother ever delivered so blistering an admonishment, nor a circuit-riding preacher so damning a sermon as what issued forth from Maggie. Drawing in a deep breath she let out with a string of shaming words the likes of which none of the younger men had ever in their lives dreamed of hearing. She questioned their sanity, their morals, loyalties to everything from the Constitution of the United States to their grade school sandlot softball teams and a dozen points in between and literally made more than one wish for nothing more than to be able to slink off and hide.

The plant was situated literally in the middle of town, just off the downtown business district. Her voice, which rang with the resounding booming of a cacophony of steeple bells, drowning out even the sounds of battle within the walls of the plant, reached the ears of business people and customers alike. Before the Guardsmen or local police could even take notice a crowd gathered across the street, watching, and listening.

Maggie was no backslider. Once she started she showed no intention of stopping. She harangued, she cajoled and she spit fire with all the fervor of a demon unleashed. The young buck who'd made to stand her down was left a pile of ooze dressed in dark blue. Try as he might he could not get a response in no matter how he worked his jaw around, trying to utter anything more than "But…" and "Uhhh." Mostly his jaw hung slack, mouth agape, as his ancestry, his character, the quality of his manhood and more was questioned for all to witness.

"What kind of spineless jellyfish are you? You look like you drink protein shakes trying to build muscles. I'll bet you think you're a real ladies' man, too, Mr. Oh-I-Am-So-Bad-With-My-Nightstick. Have you ever had a date with a girl who had an IQ higher than a Dr. Seuss book? Did you become a cop to make up for the acne scars riddling your face like a cheap imitation pizza?"

The smirks on the faces of the officer's brethren soon fell to dismay, though, when Maggie turned her attention to them as well. Especially when catcalls began to issue from across the street where the crowd of onlookers was growing to the proportions of a state high school football championship crowd. Her diatribe was so scathing, so blistering, as she alternated between verbally tearing the small force new assholes and assigning them personal responsibility for every shortcoming of the new government, that the audience across the street began to cheer loudly and urge her on. The situation was quickly deteriorating into a potential riot, and there was nothing the small force outside could do. The oldest Guardsman was a mere 24 years of age and still susceptible to the irresistible force of a grandmother with a fire under her backside and a self-assumed mission of correcting every error in youthful judgement she could discern. Not to mention he was a buck sergeant whose only directive from his immediate superior was to do whatever the nice man from NRRT told him to do in his capacity as a legal representative of the new government. No petty vandal caught snatching apples from a backyard tree ever felt so verbally horsewhipped nor so ashamed in front of an elder.

"Do you boys have any sense of pride in yourselves? Do you care in the least what is happening to our country, to our state, to our town? Do you realize how you depend upon the payroll that comes out of this plant, the community benefits it provides, the donations to everything from the Little League to the Campfire Girls? Do you give a tinker's damn whether or not any of the men and women inside that plant are mothers or fathers, or grandmothers and grandfathers or aunts, uncles, Boy Scout leaders or Neighborhood Watch members? Are you so smug in your convictions that you are willing to allow a group of u-n-c-o-u-t-h t-h-u-g-s…" she drew out the last two words so that they presented a hideous mental image of scarred gorillas with dragging knuckles. "…dictate to you what is moral and righteous and in the best interests of the children in this town? Children who depend upon those people inside to come home at the end of the day and ask them how their day went and help them with their homework and build tree houses for them and tire swings and sandboxes?"

Maggie continued, seemingly tireless and unable to be winded by the hurricane force of her impromptu speech.

Meanwhile, inside the plant itself of the original 11 federal agents accompanying the Director one was clearly out of action, having been shot out on the catwalk and shortly thereafter taken prisoner. The first casualty of the day, the suited goon who'd been knocked silly by the primary retention nut, was suffering a severe headache complicated by double vision. As a combative he was no longer effective. "Oberfurher" Burmeister had demanded the man's MP5 and subsequently managed to terrorize the office secretarial pool by waving it about as he shouted random orders. The other agents merely cringed and hoped his finger wouldn't stray anywhere near the trigger. Just then they were otherwise too pre-occupied trying to figure out how best to defend their questionable redoubt.

The 911 call placed by the secretary had been answered, of course, the information taken, and in due course the request relayed to the officers on duty outside the plant. The same ones now being harangued by Mother Maggie. The reply received at Dispatch was puzzling at best.

The Police sergeant, the most experienced of the officers present, remained at a loss as to what to advise Dispatch. He could hear the random shots coming from inside the plant, muffled as they were by the steel and brick walls and the insulation and intervening interior walls. But their orders had been very clear: remain outside and allow no one to enter or exit the grounds. The entire plant was now - presumably - federal property and thus outside the local PD's direct jurisdiction. The Guard detachment was part of the overall State Guard, also federalized. Presumably they could act without jurisdictional problems, but they. Too, had been similarly given a direct order: remain outside.

"Okay, understood you have a report of firing inside the plant. We hear it, too."

"Affirmative Patrol 3. I show you responding then."

"Umm, Central, Patrol 3. I said we heard it. I didn't say we were responding inside."

"Patrol 3, is there a problem?"

"Central, just following orders."

"I don't follow, 3."

"As stated, just following orders. Did the request come from the Trust representative?"

"Caller ID'ed themselves as an office employee with Rolls-Royce."

"Copy Central. 3 out." That was it. No refusal or commitment on the part of the on-scene sergeant, just acknowledgement. Confirm the message, confirm that orders had been received, and ascertain that the party in charge had not given new orders. Until he was able to straighten this mess out in his own mind Sergeant Cranston wasn't about to stick his neck out any farther than what it was already. Besides, there was the human foghorn to contend with yet.

Central Dispatch was left to wonder at the rather strange conversation they'd just had with the Sergeant.


Dateline: St. Olaf, Iowa

Faye Ryan-Terrell was consumed with her own problems, so much so that she was completely unaware of the activity within the small community. She had a schedule to meet and was determined to allow nothing to stand in her way. Too much rested upon her being ready at the appropriate time.

She had preparations to make, and the occasional customer served only to distract her. Were her little business run by anyone else but her they would be ecstatic with every clanging of the temple bell over the door. She barely managed to keep the boutique above water financially, but a livable profit was far from being her primary motivation in founding the business. Indeed her aims were much darker indeed.

Faye was anything but the sort of woman others would seek as a close friend and confident. Even years after body mutilation through the form of multiple piercing of ears, and tongues, navels, eyebrows and other body areas best left unmentioned, Faye's choices in adornment were regarded as a wee bit much for a conservative community like St. Olaf.

Her views on modernizing the UMC congregation were also regarded with carefully concealed distaste by the members of the church guild. It wasn't enough in their eyes that she wanted to oust Pastor Dumont after all these years. There were her attempts to change the Sunday school classes into a multi-cultural experience, complete with the chanting of mantras and exploring alternative worship paths. In the 6 months since she'd taken over the younger teens group attendance had dropped significantly. Those that did show up endured the sessions rather than actively participated in them.

"Lands sake," gushed Mrs. Pottdorf, a respected if matronly widow who had never attended church anywhere else her entire life. "I was so afraid the Bishop was going to approve her request for appointment of that pastor-woman friend of hers I like to have gone to my reward. I never in my days ever met any minister who made black look like an evil color. But it did on her, mind you, it did. And here she was all phony smiles and polite words and such, but never did she speak one wit of The Word. Not a wit!"

Mrs. Pottdorf was known throughout the community as possessing a one-track mind when it came to topics of conversation. She wouldn't budge until she'd said all she had to say on whatever subject was consuming her. Even the Presidential assassination had barely occupied her for a fortnight before she was back on the subject of "that darn Terrell woman." A few members of the guild secretly claimed that was Mrs. Pottdorf to pass on her dying words would be to the effect of "Don't you let that woman have her way!"

Dateline: Battalion Aid Midwest

Her patient, Dan, seemed reasonably stable for the time being. An hour's frantic work had seen to that. Her first impressions had proven to be moderately off base. Using the patient's own hand as a rough measure of body surface area she'd cut a piece of cardboard from an empty box to approximate the extent of his wounds. Each hand span was approximately 1% of his body surface. In theory the area of his hand expanded 100 times would equal the total surface area of his body. It was important to determine the extent not only of the burns themselves, but what percentage of them tallied up to what degree.

He was very fortunate considering the extent of his injuries. The worst of the burns were isolated from each other, with two of the possible 3rd degree patches along his left side and back joined by a swath of 2nd degree burn in between. That area alone constituted some 25% of the burns, or 8.5% of his total body surface area. The final tally was 34% total body surface affected, with the majority 2nd degree burns that did not appear likely to progress to a true 3rd degree. It might be as long as another 36 hours before she knew with certainty. The other men had done a good job of cooling the burns. It didn't matter how they had been cooled save that ice was not applied, as that would have added cold injury to tissues already damaged by heat. Even wet sand would have worked in a pinch. In this case a good amount amount of water and wet clothes laid over the burns effected the trick. Not Waterjel but it worked.

Two large bore IV lines were in place, one to the right anticubital, the other to a vein in the medial aspect of his left leg. He had a nice thick vein there and she'd wanted to save the other AC if possible. The leg set was dripping at a reduced rate of 15 drops, or 1.5 ml, per minute. A shade under 100 cc's an hour for that one. With a careful eye to the volume level the bag would last 8 hours. That meant she could devote her attention to the other, faster running bag. That one she had set at 60 drops per minute, or 375 ml's per hour. Over the course of 8 hours she'd run 3 bags through that line. After that….

The burns themselves she'd covered with dry sterile dressings that weren't too likely to adhere to the wounds. She had only her limited supplies on hand to work with. Without the supplies on the overdue truck there'd be no reason to even consider more than stabilization and transport. The chances of staving off serious infection for more than a few days at most were slim. The RPG was not a weapon known for inflicting clean wounds. Added to the equation were an unknown number of fragments from the warhead itself. Luckily they hadn't hit any major vessels as they burrowed their way into flesh. That or they had cauterized them from the heat. The distal pulses to the extremities were present and adequate, indicating that the arteries of the arms and legs had not been affected. Venous return seemed adequate. Dan was definitely pallored and his skin tented a bit when pinched, indicating dehydration secondary to the burns. His breathing remained a bit labored and he exhibited slight wheezes when she auscultated his lungs.

He remained unconscious though not so deeply that he was not affected by the pain. Andrea administered 5 mg of morphine sulfate slow push via the upper IV line over a 2-minute period. His pain needed to be controlled but there was also the danger of depressing his respiratory drive. The result was a compromise on the dosage. Besides which she had only the single 10 mg cartridge. When that was gone her only option was the Valium. Not nearly as effective as the MS and there still remained the possibility of depressed respirations if she wasn't careful with her dosing. Dan responded visibly though he still remained in significant discomfort, as evidenced by the occasional low groan that escaped his dry lips and the tense state of his muscles.

His burns had been rinsed with sterile water. There wasn't as much in her bag as she would have liked but it was all she had available. The idea was to rid the surface of as much potential contamination as possible. Later debridement would be required in one fashion or another. The gentlest way would be to soak the patient in a warm whirlpool bath and gently slough off the loose tissue. Needless to say that wasn't practical even had the truck with all her supplies and equipment arrived. Debriding pastes were another possibility for some areas, and in all likelihood she would have to exercise surgical debridement of a few small areas were it appeared clothing or equipment had been fused to the flesh. Without the resources of a skilled physician or even an experienced burn care nurse it was going to depend upon Andrea to make a judgement call each and every time.

Throughout all of this Karl and Belloc had watched attentively, as did the Amish girls. The latter had experienced some moments of discomfiture when Dan's clothing was cut off of him, such as remained. He'd been bare of all cover to his torso save for the small bits of fused fabric here and there. There was one angry spot and the back of his upper left arm where someone had gotten in a hurry and torn away his shirt before checking. Damaged flesh tore away as a result, leaving a raw looking burn. The dermis, epidermis and subcutaneous fat was missing from area measuring 2x3 cms. The muscle underneath was exposed, bits of yellowish fat still clinging to it.

The small oxygen bottle had been removed from its outside pocket and a nasal cannula fitted to the nipple. Now low-flow O2 was being administered at 2 Liters Per Minute. She would have preferred a mask at 10-12 LPM but the limited capacity of the tank wouldn't allow that, and she wanted to enhance oxygen delivery to the damaged tissues for as long as possible. Even at 2 LPM her bottle would run dry in less than 40 minutes. It wasn't much but it was what she had available.

Once she had done everything she had the ability and tools to perform for the wounded Guardsman she was able to take a breather. The past hour had left her sweating in the warm late evening air. She quickly took stock of what she had left and saw that she'd be able to manage her patient adequately until the early morning hours. After that, she'd have to pray that his constitution was strong and he'd not suffer too badly from the interruption in treatment.

The girls were directed to prepare a hasty bed for Dan from Andrea's foam sleeping pad laid atop an odd piece of plywood left over from the recent remodeling and building. That in turn was laid atop some 4x4 pieces to raise it somewhat off the floor, making care a bit easier without having to bend over so much. The makeshift sleeping platform was set up in the side room that was designated as the primary ward. Belloc found a used nail that was straight enough for use and pounded it into the wall 3 feet over the head of the platform to the IV bags would have a place to hang. Without pumps or pressure infusers gravity flow was the game of the day.

End Chapter XII Part V
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XII Part 6

Dateline: Marble Rock, Iowa

Life in Marble Rock was little affected by the growing conflicts to the east. Yes, the care center was having some difficulty obtaining a very few supply items. None of the residents, for instance, required any exotic maintenance medications. There were the usual assortment of analgesic, antihypertensive, anti-epileptic and psychotropic meds. Some required blood thinners, various antibiotics from time to time, seasonal vaccinations, anti-fungal powders and the like. There were anti-acid reflux medications, stool softeners and laxatives. A few residents used heart medicines such as Digoxin. A couple people used thyroid replacements. No one needed anti-rejection medications for a past organ transplant. Insulin was required for perhaps 5 residents and another 4 or 5 used oral anti-hyperglycemics.

The way the pharmaceutical supply system worked was very simple. The local pharmacy took care of filling al the prescriptions for the residents, placing each dose in a cardboard and plastic bubble card. The cards were clearly labeled by name, date they were filled, expiration date for the medication (always 1 year from the date of fill save for rare instances), the prescribing physician, the dosage and name of the medication. The bubbles were numbered 1-30 in correspondence to the date they were to be administered. If a resident used the same medication 3 times a day there would be 3 cards of the medication labeled for the appropriate times. Because the system called for refills every 28 days there were always 2 extras in each card. This was in case a pill or capsule was dropped or spit out inadvertently.

At the end of the cycle the nearly empty cards were returned to the pharmacy for proper disposal after the replacement cards had arrived. Normally the 2 extra doses remained in the cards and were merely discarded after being credited back to the resident. The system was simple and effective and limited the opportunities for overdosing or administering a medication at the wrong time of day.

When word came down from the corporate offices that Macrofloquin, or Macflo as it was trade-named, might be in short supply, and to encourage the physicians to prescribe other antibiotics, no one was particularly concerned. Levaquin was still available, being manufactured in quantity in the US. So were generic versions of Cipro, which had by this time long passed out of patent protection and was widely copied. Macflo was after all just an improved version of Cipro with fewer side effects when used for long-term cases. Macflo, however, was manufactured exclusively in Germany and Switzerland, and imports from Europe were almost to a standstill. What trickled in was tightly regulated as far as distribution. The official reasons given were vague. A conspiracy arose when it was noted that Macflo was the preferred specific for anthrax, having taken over that role from Cipro itself in 2008. The recommended 60-day course for potential or actual exposure was unlikely to induce some of the side effects of Cipro, plus it had proven t be at least as effective if not more so by a small margin.

For the residents at the care center it meant going back to Cipro or Levaquin, with the attendant possibility, however little, of potential adverse reactions. Truthfully one could go a couple of years and never see so much as an antibiotic-induced rash related to therapeutic use of either drug, but still it was nice to know that Macflo was available.

Dateline: Virginia PAS Convoy

Very few miles, less than 20 now, separated the little two-vehicle convoy from their objective. The tension inside the converted motor home grew perceptibly as first the crew began to get fidgety and then the patients themselves as they perceived the changes in the crew’s routine and demeanor.

Diane, as drowsy as she was from the Benadryl, still perceived the changes albeit through a haze. She indicated with a wave of her good arm that she needed yet anther change of position. The road surface had changed again, which she was acutely aware of. Carol, the attending RN, got up from her jumpseat position and made her way over to her.

“Here, hon. Let’s get you set one more time. It shouldn’t be long now and then we’ll get you into a real bed that at least doesn’t move about.”

Carol busied herself rearranging the pillows that propped Diane up so that pressure on the affected side was lessened as much as possible. There was no special trick to it, just a matter of trial and error, folding and bunching pillows behind Diane’s head and at her back and legs. Pillows were one item they’d had plenty of back at the field hospital. With so many houses abandoned or partially destroyed it was almost a scavenger’s dream. As a result they had foam pillows, feather pillows, couch pillows, wedge-shaped reading pillows and even body pillows four feet long. Carol, though, had a few ideas about some changes to be made to the accommodations inside the “ambulance.” Some cut-out foam pieces of varying thicknesses might be just the ticket for positioning patients during the long ride in the future. “What we really need,” she mused to herself, “is to find an abandoned sickroom supply that would have some ready-made pieces left.” Barring that an as-yet open for business supply located in an area outside the fighting.

Diane merely moaned a bit at the movement, more so when a sharp jar swept the motor coach as the wheels passed over an old pavement buckle. The Demerol did little for her but at least the Benadryl made things seem distant and only semi-real. It also enabled her t fall asleep for periods of a couple hours, awakening whenever the vehicle stopped or jolted.

Darnell was holding his own. Damn, how his leg throbbed though! They’d told him what happened. Not that he’d been unaware of it. The pain was bad enough right after he was hit but the face-up drag back to a safer area by a buddy brought new meaning to the term. It’d only been 20 yards but it seemed like miles at the time. Once there in the shelter of the leeward side of a concrete block building he was able to catch his breath while the buddy applied a battle dressing and tied it down with a constricting band. Darnell had been lucky. The artery was exposed but not severed. He’d have circulation distal to the injury, which meant his leg could be saved along with the foot. Antibiotics kept sepsis at bay and a couple Vicodin served to make the discomfort tolerable. He was out of the fight though, and he knew it.

The other two patients, Tyler and Dan, conversed quietly with each other across the aisle that separated them. They seemed to regard the abdominal wounds they both shared as some sort of bond. Both were tender and relied upon pillows hugged to their abdomens to help control the discomfort. Dan even joked often as not about their “meals” of semi-clear liquids.

“Ahhh, verily it is nectar of the gods,” he’d quip when it came time for a cup of beef broth. It had been several days since either of them had undergone their surgeries but conditions didn’t allow for anything more. He, too, was looking forward with anticipation t the end of the road. For one thing it meant an end to laying on his back with a pillow held across his abdomen. Just as importantly from his point-of-view was a chance to finally start to resume a more normal diet. The docs had warned him that it might be slow going. They didn’t know with any certainty but were of the opinion that the “hospital” he was being transferred to might offer little in the way of a varied soft diet. Quipped the surgeon who’d performed the operation, “I don’t think you’ll be needing any laxatives for a while.” To Dan’s discomfort that had proven all too true twice so far since they’d started their little journey.

The compact ultra-high band radio in the cockpit area of the motor home broke squelch twice, then once more, paused and then once more again. Mark was taking his turn at the wheel for the past several hours, giving Mike a much-needed respite. He took his right hand off the wheel long enough to grab a paper cup and toss it over at the semi-recumbent form in the other seat.

“Hmmphh! Huh?”

Mike stirred at the gentle alarm, quickly scanning the road ahead for signs of obvious trouble before then turning to his co-driver.

“S’happenin? We there yet?”

Mark, both hands back on the wheel just nodded towards the compact radio secured in a cell phone holder to the dash.

“Signal from the escort. He’s breaking off and running ahead to make the call.”

“’kay. Must be nearing….whats it….Elkadeer?”

Mark laughed a short guffaw. Nyaaaw, man. El Kay-der. K-A-D-I-R. Musta been named after some Shriner dude or something. Fair size town the map says. Sonny’s gonna hunt up a public phone and call the local welcoming committee and guide service. Then we wait.”

“Hmmpphh. You mean we’ve been on our own while I was snoozing?” Mike stifled a yawn as he said this last.

“Since just before we crossed into Iowa. You were so set on grabbing some z’s back there you missed out on the discussion. We dropped the last local escort over in Illinois. Just been watching the road signs for the turns on the route they laid out for us.” Mark lapsed back into silence with this, as he concentrated on watching for a convenient stop-over along the road while the USGS-marked escort left them behind as he went to complete his part of the mission.

A river access designated by the ubiquitous brown DNR sign and he pulled into it as Sonny and partner drove on ahead. Parking then as if he were just another traveler seeking a place to sleep for the night he shut down the engine, leaving the parking lights on as if he hadn’t a care in the world save not to be run into in the dark. Inside the coach silence fell as the intrepid little band waited.

Dateline: Unnamed Location Within the US

As meeting places went it was rather public. But it also offered anonymity as well. The parties were merely two vehicles amongst dozens scattered about the large parking lot. Super Wal-Mart. Where America shopped for cheap imports. And where no one raised an eyebrow at the sight of a couple of later model SUV’s parked slightly off to the side from the bulk of the shoppers. Just far enough away that any vehicle coming towards them would be noticed and not likely to be seeking a parking space that offered the shortest hike to the doors.

The sole occupant of the Lexus looked like a squirrelly version of a college professor. Not only looked like one but was. Several years before he had been ousted from Berkeley as too strange even for that liberal crowd. He talked the talk as it were, but he walked a different walk. Where others made speeches about population control and diminishing resources he was always the one to suggest action. That he was a genetic engineer was one thing. It was his utter lack of apology for his genocidal ideas was another. He scared even the Berkeleyites. Somewhere in the recesses of their cannibis-sotted minds they began to get the idea that he was serious about creating and releasing gene-spliced plagues upon the world to harvest as they would.

The party he was meeting, however, cared little for his apologies. Quite the contrary he was exactly what they had in mind when they began their search of academia several years before. Now the time had come for them to benefit from the funds they had provided him with. Funds that had made possible the little laboratory in the attic of the old chemistry building tucked away at the back of a modest, unremarkable college whose only claim to fame was a championship lacrosse team.

End Chapter XII Part 6
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XII Part 7

Dateline: Eastern United States

The country was reeling under the weight the effects of the mass assassinations of the Executive branch of government. The cheering that followed when Hillary Boxer stepped up to the plate was mixed at best. Partly because of the shock of the assassinations, partly because of the manner in which the nation suddenly found itself under a new leader who had been elected by none and was despised by many. Unlike the aftermath of 9-11 there was no national outrage expressed in the hallowed halls of the Capitol. In truth there was no one to occupy those halls to a large extent. Of the 485 members of the House of Representatives, plus the handful of Delegates representing the interests of the various Territories and District of Columbia, barely 240 could be mustered. Less than 50%. Several dozen had died the day of the Calamity. Perhaps another 35 or thereabouts had announced resignations “in the interests of the country.” The rumors flew across the airwaves and the headlines as to the “interests” that would be best served by resigning during the time of the greatest national crisis since the internecine war of the 1860’s that split the country into two separate nations for several years. There were no answers forthcoming in response to the great outcries, largely because to a person the recent resignees had taken to hiding. Or in any case could not be found, fueling still more rumors.

The official media organs of the State still functioned, though in a manner never before seen. The language was alien, replete with “the benevolent People’s Party,” “brave and beneficient brethren of the Royal Guard,” and repeated references to “our brother’s in seeking a peaceful resolution to the tumultous clatter of thunders that embroil our land.” These and other phrases that were once commonplace stock for the diatribes offered by revolutionary rags of far-off lands seemed now a fixture of the newspeak that seemed to define the thinking of the new overseers.

Outside the immediate environs of the District of Columbia the changes seemed disjointed. Granted there were the confiscations of industries by the National Resource Resolution Trust in several states, and a potpourri of new policy directives passed by the new White House “in the interest of harmonizing the national soul.” In other states the effects of the NRRT were minimal to non-existant. It seemed that the farther away from Washington one went the less the effects from the new government-in-office. Only when California, Oregon, and to a somewhat lesser extent Washington State were considered was there again a resurgence of effort to come fully in line with the new policies. Colorado was a state divided as much by local sympathies as it was the Great Divide. In Arvada, Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder New Age liberalism ruled the day. Across the peaks it was more the rule of the Old West.

But in the East, as first days, then weeks, and finally a couple of months passed, the behind-the-scenes reactions to the disobedience of an increasing number of not only military but law enforcement units were fast rising to a fiery fury. After first going into lockdown mode while they figured out who was in lawful command at the national level a few units and bases began to issue defiant proclamations to the effect that they would not obey what they considered orders contrary to their Code of Conduct. These found themselves labeled as “subversive elements.” Not that they would have expected otherwise, but the solution to the problem they represented was unforeseen by even the most far-seeing commanders.

Streaking high over the tree-studded valleys and mountains of West Virginia a pair of unlikely aircraft, rebuilt and upgraded relics of a nearly bygone era passed unchallenged towards their target. A little known Special Operations base hidden in the hollows sat quietly, unaware of the fate about to befall it. A few non-descript buildings and an unusually well built double-enclosure security fence were almost all that could be seen by the naked eye. The real guts of the operation was underground, safely secured from prying eyes and all likely forms of assault. Or so it was thought. Listed on Pentagon appropriations tables as Blue Valley Depot - a designation intended to disguise its real purpose from unauthorized persons - it was in reality the occasional home to a reinforced platoon of hard types. Gathered from various service branches soley for the purpose of having a fast reaction force that was off the books in a manner of speaking they were to a person veterans of more than one covert action amidst the darker corners of the world. To say that they had garnered a slew of enemies would be to do them a grave injustice. Not known to officially exist they were nevertheless hated for their successes by whispered reputation alone. Today they would discover that even the presumed best kept secrets are sometimes the ones most sought, and thus more likely to be uncovered.

The aircraft were two-seat versions of the aging Sukhoi Su-24 “Fencer”, a strike and attack aircraft designed and built by the prodigious Sukhoi Bureau in the former USSR. Following the downfall of the Soviet Union military equipment came to be regarded as a source of hard currency desperately needed to keep the sagging Russian economy afloat. Offered on the world market at bargain prices and sporting fresh upgrades to avionics packages, reinforced weapons pylons and fresh engines they found eager buyers. If you had the cash you could build your own air force. Which was precisely what one well-financed former oil price had done. He was nothing if not far-sighted with his purchases.



Pilots were trained in western aviation schools, occasionally in civilian versions of the very aircraft they were slated to fly. While poor overall in tactics compared to their western counterparts they were nevertheless capable pilots in their own right. More to the point they were trusted to carry out their assigned misions against whatever the designated target, whatever the ordnance load. Today the externals were to say the least unusual.

Guided to their destination by the very systems developed by the hated infidels they flew as if joined, in perfection formation. Banking hard over the the port wing they swiftly lost altitude until they were at the designated release point. Weapon systems already armed they had merely to toggle a pair of switches in each jet as they soared unconcernedly upwards in a subsonic climb. Below them two pairs of a type of cluster bomb unit previously unknown to the western military fell groundward.

Triggered by self-contained simple ground proximity radars they shed themselves of their outer sheaths in muted blasts barely 100 feet above the surface, each host shell scattering nearly 100 individual bomblets over a wide area. Few ears heard the lazy roar of the engines of their deliverers. Fewer eyes yet saw the packages fall. Those that did would soon seen no more. The liquid contents of the individual bomblets contained a horror not contemplated yet no less deadly for all its dishonorable purpose. Biological war agents were now cast upon American soil. The gates of Hell itself had been opened. A glimpse inside would be truly horrifying for the scope of the images within. Images that yet another, slower, seemingly benign aircraft lumbering in the wake of its faster brethren was to record. Images to be covertly transmitted later to the rebelious children of the armed forces that refused to partake of the subjugation of their country.
 

Reasonable Rascal

Veteran Member
Chapter XIII - Ominous Beginnings

Dateline: Goodland, Indiana

Chacka was breathing hard as he hugged the wall of the frame building that until tonight had housed a styling salon. Whether it would in the future remained to be seen. So far the damage was repairable. The front window was blown in and the wall below and to either side was partially shredded. None of which was any concern to the men assaulting the structure.

For the eyes that watched it was a sad necessity. Though the owner of the targeted structure didn’t know it yet there would be some recompense in the way of free labor and perhaps also some materials provided in the next week or so. Not that they even knew of the damage being wrought upon their business by the present action. There was only so much you could do. Normally it would be chalked up to the fortunes of war but the last thing the so-called rebels wanted was to succeed in alienating their fellow countrymen. This wasn’t one of the eastern battlefields after all, where total destruction was a matter of course, especially when it was the Royal Guard doing the damage.

Catching the eye of Psycho as well as one of the Arabian troopers, whose face showed little in the way of concern for his infidel comrad-in-arms, he nodded to signal his move. Spinning on his left foot he exposed only a portion of his upper body as well as his rifle long enough to trigger a 3-round burst of his own through the dangling shards. Quick as that he was back out of sight and doing a fast two-step to the side in case the defenders inside wised up and tried to punch a few rounds into him through the minimal cover offered by pressed wood siding and fiberglas insulation.

Almost as if reading his mind but not bothering to correct their aim another burst came through the open area. Heading out into and across the street. ‘Shee-hit! Whoever those dumb bastids be,’ thought Chacka, ‘they ain’t got a lik o’ sense when it come to fightin’. Too bad the stoopid muthahs won’t be getting’ no chance to learn themself no lessons.’ Unclipping another frag from his harness he prepared to put an end to their foolhardy stand.

Unseen by Chaka and friends were another set of eyes, set within the visage of a carefully carefully concealed form who had yet a clear view of the events taking place upon the street in the semi-distance. One hand held a pair of lenses before the eyes. The other a small black box that looked suspiciously like a Hollywod detonator, complete with a shielded red light that indicated when the button was pressed and the unit transmitted.

Payton, whose hand held the device, was an electronics hobbyist. It was his idea to rig the device to remote control. Thus the honors went to him as well. A veteran of the Viet Nam conflict decades ago he nursed a stiff leg, a gift of another canny boobytrapper in a far-away jungle. As a result he had to chose his battles wisely if retreating with his skin intact was his intention. Behind him 100 yards, concealed behind a stand of brush, sat a Honda 4-Trax Rancher AT GPScape. Purchased new out of the showroom back in “05 with the stock olive paint scheme Payton had tinkered with it over the intervening years. In addition to the stock GPS unit it had an expanded fuel capacity, carrying nearly 6 gallons total. The muffler had been removed in favor of a much quieter unit and a non-stock engine shroud that further muffled the noise. At idle it couldn’t be heard running 20 feet away. There was a pair of infrared lamps fixed to either side of the front cowling where they wouldn’t interfere with the controls and steering. And a custom scabbard could be fitted across the front rack to house Payton’s favorite rifle.

When he was finished with his control box he’d take time to toss a couple well-aimed rounds in the direction of the Royalist forces then make his way back to his get-away vehicle. Later he’d rendezvous with the other members of the team.

Elsewhere others were playing their respective roles in the little diversion that Goodland was intended to be. So far it was working. The Royalist forces were tied down dealing with what they thought was a poorly planned effort to confront them. In reality the unit that was facing them had no intention of making a pitched battle. A little improvisation here and there and a few men were making life miserable for a much larger, far better equipped force. They’d taken no casualties so far. Indeed if all worked as planed they wouldn’t take any. The cute tricks they peppering their enemy with were intended as force multipliers, the goal being to tie up the convoy for as long as possible and cause as many casualties as they could without taking any themselves.

Dateline: Somewhere in Minnesota

Fred Hawkins had been on the move for weeks now. The idea for this bit of mischief had slowly percolated through his mind for several years and he’d made plans accordingly. Measures were in place that would allow him to move with reasonable autonomy throughout an area of several states. Here there was a warm bed, a hearty meal and a barn to hide his vehicle in. Elsewhere a mom and pop motel – one of the few independants remaining these days – registered a John N. Smith for 3 nights. The owner/clerk asked no questions, merely looked at the profered business card and quietly stuck it into his pocket for later disposal. He’d never met Mr. “Smith” before but he recognized the card.

Gradually the load bearing down on the springs of the delivery truck began to groan under the weight of successive additions to the cargo. Occasionally the burden grew all at once lighter, but the loading would only resume somewhere else down the road. The lettering on the side touted Pella Meats – Ring Bologna Sausage Ham Jerky Smoked Chops. Who was going to take the time to search a small refridgerated meat delivery truck any way. No one apparently. At least they hadn’t yet. There were even a few small cases of product dropped off hither and yon. No one took notice that the same delivery points also seemed to include pick ups as well. Funny looking wooden cases at that.

The ruse surrounding the truck went so far as current DOT registration. What the DOT didn’t know was that the company whose name was on the side didn’t know they had such a vehicle listed in their inventory. No one questioned the person who’d shown up at the area office with a bill of sale and other documents in hand to register and license the vehicle. Even if a State Transportation enforcement officer were to pull the truck over for inspection they’d find everything in order as far as could be determined. Unless they were determined to unload each and every locker that is.

Fred had equipped himself with a nice bundle of cash after selling out his inventory at the Des Moines Fairgrounds gun show. He’d saved back nothing for himself; that had been taken care of long ago on the chance it might one day prove prudent. There were other funds as well. What became of his house, sitting empty in a smallish community in the northwestern quarter of Iowa, he had little care regarding. Certainly there were memories within its walls, cherished years with his beloved wife, the children they had raised, the friends they had entertained. Once Blanche had passed on though…. Well, he’d needed to find something else to justify a suddenly lonely existance. That was when he turned his eyes towards the potential for an uncertain future in earnest. His seemingly distracted wanderings across Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota were the near-final product of that vision. After Wisconsin he’d head back to Iowa and take stock of the situation once again and recalculate his moves from there. So much to do and seemingly so little time. The dull, distant ache in his chest only served as a reminder.

Dateline: Kentucky/Tennessee Area

The forces were gathered, an Operational Plan (OpPlan) decided upon, and a timetable set. The action would begin at 0500 local time, before the military dawn began to break over the horizon hidden behind the tulip poplars, hickorys, pines and hillsides.

The goal was to retake the Mammoth Cave National Park from the UN personnel stationed there. Personnel who’d only shown too much enthusiasm for the new government in Washington, D.C. Though the US had formally pulled out of the UN several years back it nevertheless supported certain policies via ongoing treaties.

The current situation was regarded as an “internal matter” that did not call for UN intervention. Secretly many of the smaller nations were chortling wth glee at the events of the past few months. Then, too, there were the secret negotions between the Boxer regime and the UN, still headquartered in NYC at One UN Plaza. Deprived of US funds the body nevertheless continued to exist and even thrive. The US, stripped of it’s vote on the Security Council, was the loser. While the idea was sound in theory it was rushed into in haste. The end result was no action being taken when calls to quash the not-too-secret build-up of forces in certain areas of the world previously brought to heel by the US.

Tourism was down nearly 2/3’s for the year and expected to fall further as fuel prices kept increasing and the problems with interstate travel increased. Most of the visitors this year had been people from surrounding states. Very few international travelers visited now, as much because of fears and rumors concerning the “uprising” within the US as due to any problems negotiating travel arrangements. Thus very few people would be upset by the closing of the park. Many of those would be were on the East Coast, situated in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Not one of the gathering force gave a tinker’s damn what they thought.

In all some 341 men and women had gathered. Most of them were Guard and Reserve personnel who’d failed to heed the call the duty by the national government. A few had reported, granted. Just because someone was a born-and-bred Kentucky or Tennessee native didn’t mean they were loyal to the Constitution, or anything or anyone else for that matter. So long as they had a paycheck, food, clothing and a promise of authority they didn’t care who was writing the checks or giving them orders. it should be noted, though, that most of the personnel gathered were over 30 years of age. Generations, it seems, still had their differences concerning more than just style and music.

Facing them were 96 World Heritage Conservators, the former National Park Service Rangers they had replaced no longer in evidence. Odd conservators at that, as they were armed at all times, though only occasional sidearms were visible. Long arms and force multipliers were either carried only while patrolling the perimeter of the park or kept in ready rooms. They also had at their beck and call a quad of Giat armored scout cars. The good news was they were lightly armed with only a GPMG-medium and smoke ejectors. The bad news was that they were heavily secured behind a double security fence surrounding the stout structure which housed them. For once the conspirators were right – there were foreign troops in the national forests. Just not divisions of them, and they had only arrived in late 2008.

The patriot forces were psyched, the Conservators edgy but otherwise unaware. One had superior numbers and grim determination, the other light armor and governmental backing.

To the south of the state border, in the Lebanon State Forest of Tennessee, 100+ men and boys gathered. Women were deliberately excluded from the gathering. Not because they couldn’t fight. There were a few present that held to such views it is true. But even the orneriest cuss wouldn’t dare tell a man to his face that his wife was no good. Not when the other man was packing iron and everyone knew full well the other half did also, and knew how to use it.

Rather for the women another role was slated. In the tradition of their more liberal sisters they were going to march in protest. Protest against the well-known abuses of the current administration in Nashville. A real sign waving, bullhorn shouting protest. Something sure to catch the attention of the State Police as well as the city PD. No march permits, no advance notice, just show up, gather and start marching. By using the element of surprise the plan was to catch the law enforcement agencies off guard, forcing them to rush men and equipment to the protest site, while their husbands, brothers and uncles, and even a few grandfathers, snuck in via the back route as it were.

A private tour bus had been arranged for. A short-notice tour permit had been acquired in the name of an alternative lifestyle men’s group. There wouldn’t be any problems should a passing patrol car notice that the passengers were entirely males of varying ages. Only when they debarked the bus at the capitol building would it become evident that this group was militant in the extreme. It was rights and recognition they were seeking, but not for the purpose one would have thought had they per chance seen the name on the permit application. Within 48 hours “Del” Cyrus would have cause to regret every nasty scheme, every dirty trick, every last twisted interpretation and disdain of the law, every single usurption of the state Constitution. Dozens of others of his family, friends, supporters and political hacks would likewise have the opportunity to experience quasi-religious revelations. Some would go into hiding, others would flee the state; most would find their circumstances in life suddenly and irrevocably altered in a manner not of their own choosing. Once again Sgt. Alvin York would inspire the people of Tennessee.

Dateline: Marble Rock, Iowa

The small cabin to the rear of the care center, measuring all of approximately 28 feet x 19 feet, held suprises well out of proportion to its size. Few people, very few, had even an inkling of the treasures it guarded. Cedric was one of those people. Only he, in fact, knew all there was to know about the contents, not to mention the special security features.

Myrtle knew a great many of the secrets as well. Most of them but not all. She trusted her brother even more than she had ever trusted her husband. Not that he was not worthy of trust, her husband. He’d been a very good provider, and even with his premature passing he had left her reasonably well cared for in the financial sense. He just had never been one to to take a hardline stance when it came to politics and individual rights. “Just go with the flow, Myrt, just go with the flow,” he’d always say. Politics were one topic of discussion that was studiously avoided around their house during their many years together. Myrtle saved such discussions for visits with her brother. They had been raised by parents who were astute in their observations far beyond those of their peers. Their parents hadn’t been so readily fooled into complacency when the New Deal came to town.; they had seen the changes in the laws of the land for what they truly were. When it came to the truly difficult decisions in life Myrtle trusted her brother like no other. He’d always been there for her when she was growing up, was always welcome in her house during her years with her husband, and was still there in her infirmity.

Besides Myrtle and Cedric a few others were entrusted with documents that would, in case of Cedric’s death, reveal in a roundabout way the secrets of the little storage building. Only by actually opening the building and probing its inner crevices would all be revealed. The documents were written in such a way as to appear to be the random musings of a mind affected by age. Only someone who knew Cedric personally would see through the ploy.

“Now take that horsehide couch. A genuine antique passed down from Myrtle’s grandparents. Mine too. Miss them I sure do. Oh the wonderful times we had. Granddad he’d a been in the Great War. Come to think he was there in Cuba long about the same time as ol’ TR. Weren’t there with him, no. But he were there. Weren’t no young feller even then. But that there settee holds the memories. Them memories could be the key to the future if you know how to use them. Yep they could.”

The documents went on, seemingly rambling at times, reciting old memories, offering advice (“There be a reason they’re a called junk bonds. Their junk! My daddy never had any use for them and I didn’t neither.”), wishes for a future restored to the days he remembered from his youth (“used to be a boy could take his marbles, walk down to the hardware store and buy a pack of 22’s for not much more’n a quarter dollar. Head hisself on down to the river and have a whole afternoon of fun. Not one ol busy-body would dare say a thing. The Sheriff see him he might wave is all.”), and occasionally more lucid appearing instruction. One such passage was very firm:

“I have lived a good life. There have been times I wished hadn’t oughta been but all in all it’s been good. Good friends I can trust, a good house, a decent living. I had a will writ up a few years past that I have passed along to trusted friends. I want it to stand as I wrote it.

The trust fund is to be used just like I said in the papers; educate the youth and make life bearable for the folks at the Marble Rock Rehab Center. Read the papers, it’s all spelled out in there. The youth are and always have been the future of our country, of our world. God made little children for a reason, and gave humans longer childhoods than any other of His creations for good purpose. The elderly also have a purpose in God’s plan. I don’t presume to know for sure what it is but I have a couple of ideas. One is to teach the youth. We are supposed to learn as we grow. We never stop growing, so we never stop learning. A sharp mind is a valuable tool. Use it wisely.”

An astute reader could readily discern some of the references within the documents. The marbles referred to in an apparently off-hand manner had nothing to do with glass orbs. Cedric had been given a Marbles Game Getter by his father. Banned later by the ATF in 1934 for some reason Cedric’s father, and later Cedric himself, never quite got around to registering the arm nor ever turning it in. An over/under rifle chambered originally in .22 upper and .44 shot and ball on the lower side it had a nifty underfolder stock. Cedric’s came in the original 12” barrel length, though 15” and 18” barrels were also produced.

http://www.4-10.freeuk.com/marblesgamegetter2.jpg

Cedric had handloaded special cartridges for the arm some years before. It had been thoroughly checked by a master gunsmith, the original leather holster carefully tended to and the metal kept oiled and free of rust. Shooting a cold cast round lead ball the larger barrel was capable of somewhere over 1,140 fps velocity and 326 foot pounds of energy. Hardly a engine block penetrator by any means but effective. The untwisted barrel wouldn’t stabilize a conical bullet so round ball it was. For certain types of shooting it was nearly ideal: easily conceable under a light jacket and packing a decent punch at shorter ranges.

There were other arms in Cedric’s collection. A genuine Model 1897 Winchester 12 ga configured for trench warfare, complete with the ventilated barrel shroud and the original bayonet. His grandfather had brought it back from The Big One. He’d always claimed he’d won it in a poker game aboard the troop ship on the return journey. It had been likewise well cared for, complete with a stock of replacement parts; the firing pins were somewhat notorious for breaking.



M1893 Turkish Mausers comprising a full case were well hidden within the safety of the cabin. All were legal antiques excluded from registration owing to their age, re-heat treated in the 1930’s and rebarreled for the 8 x 57 Mauser cartridge (7.92 mm x 57mm). There were several cases of spitzer ammo for the arms as well, packed in strippers and bandoleers.

http://world.guns.ru/rifle/mauser_k98_l.jpg

In the more modern line of arms were 5 CETME’s in .308. Each was accompanied by no less than 17 magazines, all carefully checked for proper function. Again, ammo was plentiful, of Portuguese manufacture carefully selected for both price and functionality in the rifles. Cleaning kits, slings, spare parts of varying quantities and even a few armouror’s tools were stashed with them.

The cabinet which lined the rear wall, uninterrupted save for the sole window in the middle, was the keeper of these secrets. It had been carefully fitted with a hidden back panel. Inside the recess, undetectable unless a person were to actually grab a tape measure and calculate to the ½” the space from the exact front of the building to the rear. Only then would they discover that a few inches were unaccounted for.

Even better hidden was the subterranean vault beneath the cabin. Not on the original plans and escavated unknown to the immediate witnesses that the residents and staff of the rehab center comprised. It began 3 feet underneath the concrete slab floor. The floor itself was covered with wooden strip flooring removed from an old retail store long gone the way of the wreckers. Admiring visitors commented on how it fit the décor so well. They never had an inkling of an idea that it also served to conceal a very carefully crafted trapdoor. Over the door itself sat a wood and glass display counter salvaged from the same store. Seemingly bolted to the floor it actually turned on carefully concealed pivots, revealing a 32” wide x 48” long rectangle cut out of the flooring. Lifted up it would reveal a short shaft leading to the vault below. More ominous tools than lay concealed within the false cabinet walls awaited below.

End chapter XIII part I
 
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