Preservation and Protection
Chapter 20

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

"Lovie, go as fast as you can safely. They're coming this way." She sped up. "Melissa, have you got a grenade or three ready?"

"Yes, Sir. I'm not sticking out but I can be in a second."

"Good, wait until we're ready. I can see headlights in my rearview mirror. They're too far yet. When you throw, pull the pin, count three and throw in front of them. It will be more effective if a grenade blows up right in their faces or under them." I paused for a second. "Melissa, Murray didn't tell the whole truth. Your mother was raped and your father forced to watch. Be accurate."

"Yes, Sir!" I drove on keeping pace with Pam but holding back some. Melissa said, "If I don't hold it, I think I can get one under the lead car."

"Okay, throw when you're comfortable."

She moved around and then I heard the pin come out. "Away!"

"Get back in!"

More movement. Then I saw the flash and heard the bang as it detonated. She was good. The front of the lead truck went in the air and rolled sideways. The fire was bright. We kept going and the lights faded. I said, "Keep watching. This time, they may come without lights."

"Yes, Sir. That was fun."

"Yeah. Just remember that we probably killed the people in that truck. Someone does or did care for them."

She was subdued, "Yes, Sir."

"Lovie, I don't think they're following any more. Lift and pull in to a road without using your brakes. No lights."

"Roger." I had already lifted my foot and let the SUV slow. A few hundred yards later, Pam pulled to the right onto a four-lane road. We went a couple of hundred feet to shield us from the road. She said, "Stop now?"

"Okay."

We were sheltered from the main road by some buildings. Brake lights came on as she stopped. The doors opened and everyone tumbled out. It was a grand reunion for the family. Pam and I held each other tightly though I continued to listen and watch for any Memphians. I didn't hear or see any vehicles coming up the road. That was a relief. Perhaps, they didn't expect a violent reaction to them chasing us. I did know that we needed to return to George and report. I felt that we had a problem that would have to be addressed.

As we all came off our adrenalin highs, I said, "Chuck, would you and your family like to join us. We are heading back to Protection and home. I think you would like our community. One caution, I think we will wind up fighting the Memphians soon. They cannot let our community exist once they know about it. We cannot and will not allow them to raid us.

"I'm returning with Pam to report to our elected leadership regarding the situation. I expect we will be out in force in no more than two days from now."

Charles said, "Dad, I'm ready to go and ready to fight."

Melissa said, "I'm already fighting and ready for more. Just don't shoot me again, Robby. At least you didn't hit my throwing arm."

"I won't but they will try. People who take over the lives of others don't like to have people fight back."

Alice had been quiet. She took Chuck's hand and said, "Honey, we almost lost each other and our children. Dying would have been easier than some of what happened. We both saw what happens there. We have to fight." Chuck nodded soberly.

Charles said, "The Andersons are going to war!"

Pam and I talked to Chuck and Alice about traveling. They would take over the larger SUV and Pam would rejoin me. We would lead and the kids would watch behind us and ride with their parents. That's what we did and the trip was uneventful. We had enough size to the house on our farm to bed everyone down for the night. The next morning, Pam cooked breakfast while I radioed George telling him what we found and suggested that we meet to make a more in-depth report including input from the Andersons on their experiences. He agreed and I would get together with the council and him just before lunchtime.

As we ate, I explained to the Andersons how we governed ourselves and how we lived. I also said that George has two wives, as does our spiritual leader. On the other hand, I emphasized that we were about choice. I told him I only had one and that worked for us. There was no requirement or limitation for marriage other than a genuine caring. We were talking about an age of consent, which looked like it would be around fifteen. I said that we did have a couple who were waiting for time to pass before they married.

Alice looked relieved at my description. Chuck said, "What about living? Though there are things from our old house that we would like, moving here would be good."

I said, "There's a farm next to us that is available. We live almost communally right now. You can learn farming with me. Sometimes other talents from before the Day come into play. George had asked me to scout. I was in the service before the Day. What did you do before?"

Chuck said, "I managed a machine shop and Alice was a operating and emergency room nurse."

"That's great. Those are two good skills and you will be needed and appreciated."

"It didn't teach me much about surviving in a battle."

"That's true but we hope to be beyond that at some early point. You might look in one of the nearby towns. If there is a machine shop, you could take it over. There is a lot we'll need in the future and we'll have to make it. Alice, nurses will be needed. George is a medical doctor but a good nurse would help us all. I don't think sickness will be an issue but people still get hurt."

We went to the meeting George called. As usual, we met at the church. The building was packed. Not only was the news we brought of interest to everyone but new faces were good, too. George called the meeting to order and I gave my report.

He then said, "Thank you, Robert. I don't think we're glad to hear your report but we all know we need to hear it before we experience it. A new family returned with Robert and Pam. I would like to give Chuck and Alice an opportunity to tell us their story."

Chuck stood, "Thank you, George. Robby and Pam told you what they saw. That was bad enough. We experienced it for almost a week. Our rescue by Robby was fortuitous. He was scouting when he heard our names spoken by one of the Memphians preparing to abuse my wife again. The Memphians don't allow wives to be used for sex but they use the old Bill Clinton argument that oral isn't sex and all women and even some men were used orally and frequently by our captors.

"They are cruel and fairly well-organized. Any one who resists is killed by torture. After you have watched a couple staked out naked over an ant bed and scream themselves into insanity, you understand that they must be stopped. They will come this way. Robby is right in his report. Once they know of Protection or even suspect your existence, they must take it over or be taken over. The two systems are too different to co-exist peacefully even if we would let them. Knowing that freedom is out there would make the lives of their prisoners sufficiently unbearable that escape attempts would never stop. Alice and I were thinking about trying to escape. If we knew of a safe haven, we would have made the attempt. They will come after us. My family is prepared to go back and fight. They must be stopped."

The discussion was fast after that. There seemed to be no question about fighting. The discussion was about how and when. Finally, George called a halt to the discussion. He said, "I want to hear from Robby. He's the only true military person we have. Robby, what are your recommendations?"

"George, I was primarily a small unit guy. These guys have a sort of para-military organization but I don't think it's truly military-led. We stopped them pretty quickly when they gave chase. Their tactics are not in keeping with military standards. I would like to gather a small force to shield us while a larger, more competent force trains. It won't be fun, will be dangerous, and I just hope we can be ready before they come for us."

Amos said, "How would your shield force be set up."

I would suggest we use some hunters in pairs to watch the roads. Melissa can give anyone who needs it a quick course in throwing hand grenades." Melissa positively beamed at that statement. "She took out their lead chase car last night." Alice looked startled but Chuck smiled. "Their mission would be to guard against intrusions and provide a first line of defense. The larger force would then either defend Protection carrying the battle to them or, if given enough time, attack them in Memphis.

"My opinion is that we will have to defend initially after they probe us. That assumes they are a little bit cleaver. If they're stupid, then they are on their way to attack with no idea what and who they are fighting. That would be my hope. It means we lose less people. People are not replaceable. So, our plan has to maximize our firepower and minimize our risk."

The vote was fast and unanimous. George said, "That settles it." Looking at me with a grim smile, he said, "What are your orders, General?"

"First, would the hunters gather with me outside the church. We'll team up and go over a map to determine the spots for our people blinds. Once they are dispersed and a schedule set, then I will start training sessions after lunch for the rest of us. I'll gather about twenty at a time for that training. Please, be available when called." I grabbed a map and went outside. Amos and George were there along with fourteen others. That was a better turnout than I had expected.

I put the map on a picnic table and said, "We know where they're coming from. They don't know where we are but suspect we're somewhere beyond Whitesville because they should be there today and find no one nor any sign of anyone." I made three marks on the map. Henderson can be reached, on main roads, from the north and south on US 45 and from the west on Tennessee 100. "I don't want to be too far out. We have the advantage of internal communications and radios. I want to maximize those. I also want to force them to commit if I can before we commit. These positions I have marked have those possibilities and give us enough time to apply force. The western approach group will be the strongest for two reasons: First, it's the closest and, second, it's the most likely. I actually hope we can make a stand there when they come. The other two positions are important because they are likely to see scouting trips if we have an intelligent enemy. If they feel we came from the north or south and converged to move west at Whitesville, then we may see action at either the north or south approaches."

Heads nodded all around. "Now, Amos, you live the farthest north and I want you to cover the north approach." He nodded. "Take three men and set up a two shift program at about that location." He nodded again. He picked three men and they left in their trucks.

"Arnold, you will lead the south group. Take three and set a watch point close to here. Monitor the radio." He nodded at me and picked three more who now lived on that side of Henderson. They left, also.

"Gentlemen, the rest of us will take the western approach. I will go with you to set up watch points and ambush points. I believe this is where the attack will come but don't know. I want a defense in depth with spots to allow those out front to get away." Included in the six were the four Andersons. "Now, Charles, you won't like this but, since you are the least mobile, you will have to be the rear guard. You and your mother will take that position. Chuck, you will take the middle position with Alvin. He's a local. Trust him on where to go to get away. Melissa, that puts you out front with Jeff. You are both pretty young and in good shape and you may need to run. Jeff, Melissa has a great arm and knows grenades. You two can really hurt the Memphians. Just remember this, all of you. This is military. Your job is to inflict casualties not to become casualties. I will take you all out and set up with you. I'll check on the others later. I also want your young ears to listen for motors." I looked around. "Okay, let's go! Melissa, Jeff, you ride with me."

We all loaded up. As I started my truck, I had a thought. "Chuck, how much gas does that SUV have in it?"

"I'm pretty close to empty. I was going to stop and fill it."

"Don't. We'll use it as bait for a trap." I made a detour by my house for detonators and C4. I had a plan to ruin someone's day and lure them down 100. As we drove, I pointed out a place for Alice and Charles. Later, I saw a good spot for Alvin and Chuck. Finally, I saw the spot I thought I remembered.

"Chuck, go down to a paved spot where you can turn around without it showing and come back. I'll show you where I want you."

About thirty seconds later, he returned. I directed him to park with the front of the truck out into the opposite lane a little bit. It wasn't quite blocking the road but close. He shut off the engine and got out. I said, "Turn the engine on and leave it running. Leave the doors open, too." I then took some C4 and planted it under the truck attached to the body. I pushed a detonator into it and wedged the detonator under the body, too. I left the truck and took some more C4 and carefully dug a hole and pushed it and a detonator into the hole and covered it carefully. I took some more C4 and did the same at the edge of the road. We then rode back to the spot where I wanted Melissa and Jeff. I showed them how to work the detonator switching. I said, "When they come, I hope the SUV will be out of gas." At that moment, the truck motor coughed and died. Melissa giggled. I continued, "That's good timing. Let them approach before you set off the truck. If they try to go around, set those off then. If they keep coming, use the grenades and rifles. Stay down. When they start shooting back, crawl away and then go that way about two football fields before you start back toward Henderson."

Jeff said, "There's an old dirt road about that far off that parallels the new road here. I've been on it."

"Okay. Use it but be careful. Always assume your adversary is smarter and better prepared than you. That increases your edge. Remember, it's your job to do some damage, slow them down, and, most of all, survive. Live to fight again." I helped them dig in and gave Melissa a kiss on her forehead after her parents and brother kissed and hugged her. I shook Jeff's hand. "Take care of her. She's good people." He nodded.

Back to the road, I took the rest by their trucks to my next chosen spot. "Alvin, is that road close here, too?"

"Not as close but we can get to it." I gave them some grenades and said, "Your instructions are the same as for Melissa and Jeff. Survive. There are no replacements." I shook each man's hand and Alice kissed and hugged her husband while Chuck hugged her.

We left them and headed further east. "Your job is to be a rabbit. You'll hear the noise and probably hear warnings over the radio, too. Let them see you and then run for it radioing us with information. I'm going to set up a big trap late this afternoon or early tomorrow morning. We'll let you through and then slam the door. Remember. Survive. That's primary."

I headed back into town to meet with my first group of trainees. There were five couples. "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here. I want to familiarize you with some weapons and teach you some basics. No matter what, remember the most important thing is to survive."

I went over to my truck and pulled some rifles out. I lay them out on the table and said, "This is what I have. We have good load outs for all of them. I don't expect a lot of accuracy so putting down a hail of bullets will help. We'll take them across the street and take turns firing them until you find one you like. I will give you plenty of ammo for whichever rifle you choose. I want to say one more thing for everybody. There is no Rambo here. Your job is to be part of a shooting squad in which the number of bullets is more important than the accuracy. There will be people with you including me who can shoot accurately. We want to survive this event. Not a one of us is replaceable."

People picked up rifles and followed me across the street. Doris was first and said, "I've fired shotguns and .22 rifles but these are different. Please show me how to load it. I demonstrated how to load a clip and where the safety was located. I then pulled the clip and handed the rifle and clip to Doris. I purposely gave her the clip backwards. She turned it around and pushed it home, released the safety and took aim. She murmured, "Car window." She aimed and fired. The window suddenly had a hole in it just to the right and very slightly above the middle of the window. She smiled happily.

"Good shot. I hope the rest of you can do as well. Who's next?'

One of the ladies we rescued in Nashville stepped up. She said, "They sound just like the ones who had us. I'll do my part to stop them. I think I've got it." I handed her the same rifle and a clip. She loaded it correctly and flipped the safety off. She said, "Next window." She hit the window, barely. She grinned. "It would have made them duck anyway."

"We'll have some more practice and you'll improve fast. Who's next?"

One of the men with Amos stepped up. I handed him a more powerful rifle after showing how to load the clip. He said, "Front tire." His first shot hit a hubcap but his second took out the tire.

I said, "What branch?"

He replied, "Marines but a long time ago."

"It's just like a bicycle, Soldier."

"Yes, Sir, General, Sir." He grinned.

"Good, Colonel. Take the two ladies and one other man and get'em going."

He looked at little shocked but said, "Yes, Sir." They went off about fifty feet and picked a car to shoot up.

It went quickly after that. I found one other older soldier in Arnold. He would lead the other squad. I let them practice shooting up cars for a bit. Then, I called everyone together. "Folks, we are the primary fighting force for Protection. I know a few others, like George, will join as will half the ones in the north and south approaches when becomes time to fight. We are the core group though. Okay, the good stuff is that I have a couple of rocket launchers, which will ruin a SUV's day." I took out a piece of paper, laid it sideways and drew a horizontal line. "This represents the road from Whitesville. We will set Squad One on the left side as we head out and Squad Two behind them on the other side. I want to stop any attack and be sure not a one of the Memphians gets closer than that to Protection. Now, I do not expect any women to be fighters. It's not what I perceive as their style. They may use some persons as decoys though I don't know. I think their first incursion will be scouts. I expect we will be outnumbered so we will have to outthink and outfight them to win and we must win. I don't want Pam to be treated like they seem to treat women." Pam had been by my side the whole time. She was monitoring the radio for me.

At that moment, she raised her finger, "Melissa reports a truck coming toward them."

"Tell her to be patient. We want them coming down that road. Don't fire off the truck. Let them get beyond it and hit them with a grenade if they get close enough."

Pam moved away a few feet to talk to Melissa. "Okay, folks. We need to get moving. This may be starting faster than I want but that's what we can't determine. That's the problem with defense. We choose the ground but not the time."

Pam came back and said, "It's a pickup truck with a machine gun mounted on the bed. I told her to keep very low. Those bullets can penetrate."

"Correct. People, let's mount up and ride west a bit to the ambush point I chose. Lovie, tell the north and south people to be watchful. They may be circling, too." Everyone loaded up and we went out to the spot I chose. The spot was flat but had an "S" curve in it. The area was heavy in large trees and undergrowth. We pulled into the area between the curves and stopped. As the motors went off and I got out, I heard a boom in the distance. I looked at Pam.

She was listening for a transmission. She looked up and smiled. "Melissa said that she got them with a grenade. She also says there was another truck well behind the first truck. She says it retreated."

I said, "Okay, tell her that was good work and stay low. Remind her that the watchword is, 'Survive.'" I looked up and said, "We will set up in the inside of the curves well back. The people out front will warn us. You want to be invisible from the road. Bullets travel a long way. I will set the launchers along with alternate positions. You need to pick out a primary position and two alternates. We also need to find places for our trucks. I don't want to have to retreat but we have to survive this fight. It's not the war. That's what we have to win."

We went to the front curve. I took that group and said, "Okay, let's start finding places. You need sight lines to the road to shoot." One woman got behind a tree. I stopped her and said, "Two problems. You are way too close and the tree is not big enough. It won't stop a bullet or hide you. Good idea but go further back and pick a bigger tree." She nodded. A couple of other people looked sheepish and we all walked further into the woods.

After she found a good place, I said, "Now, find two more further back each." She nodded. I went back and found a dirt road. One of the local guys, Ben, came up and I said, "Where does it go?"

He answered, "It will turn left just over that rise and go the old Mason place. It was abandoned years before the Day."

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