Preservation and Protection
Chapter 22

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

The next morning saw the four of us having breakfast together. We used our smaller SUV and all of us went into town and met up with the people gathered there. I had almost fifty people. Amos would oversee the eight including him who were watching the north and south approaches into Henderson. Arnold was in charge to my west. We would take the rest south and swing around to Whitesville and hunt for the group that might be between us at that point.

Jim Bob had come through stunningly. He had four military Humvees and cases of rocket launchers and rockets. He also had six fifty-caliber machine guns with tripod mounts. We had plenty of rifles and ammo so we were ready to fight a war.

I gathered our folk together and we headed south and around. We saw no one and reached Whitesville without incident. We set a simple roadblock and I took four vehicles led by a light truck to look for the Memphian regiment between Whitesville and Henderson if they were still there. In a word or two, they weren't. We reached the bridge without incident and without seeing any trace of a Memphian regiment turning off the road. We had to guess they had returned to Memphis. I sure wished I knew because I didn't want a surprise. They always come at inopportune times.

We returned to Whitesville watching even more carefully for any signs of anyone taking a side road. We found nothing going off a side road. The group blocking the road reported no noise or people.

I set us up into three groups. I had a scout group that included Pam and I and two other trucks of men with hunting experience. The second group was our largest force and had the Humvees. Jim Bob led it. The last group, led by George, was our backup group with medical and communications teams. Every vehicle had radios. I led off planning to get close to Bartlett before going further on foot. As we were coming up on the truck that Melissa had hit with the grenade, we saw vehicles in the distance coming our way fast. I got on the radio and warning our other two groups. I told them to hold position and give us a chance to determine what we would have to face in numbers and arms.

They stopped about a hundred yards from us spread out across the road. I was watching with binoculars and saw a man step out and slowly walk toward us waving a white handkerchief slowly with his left hand and his right raised gently. He wasn't wearing a vest. I was. I stepped out with a small piece of white cloth and came toward him. My holster had a flap and I let my right hand rest on it as we walked toward each other.

He stopped when we were close and said, "I am Regimental Commander Russell Jones. Who are you?"

"I am Robert Thomas of Protection. We don't have an army but can and will fight if we need to. We also won't tolerate slavery. It looks like we have a fight unless you know something I don't." I stopped talking and waited for a reply. I was wearing a throat mike and my words were going out over the radio.

He looked startled at my words. I don't think he was expecting an aggressive approach to his somewhat open greeting. He finally said, "We don't want a fight."

I interrupted, "After freeing a couple who you had enslaved and abused sexually, you chased us and attacked us. Up until then, we hadn't killed anyone other than by a grenade to stop pursuit. We are now prepared to do either of two things. Either we accept your absolute, unconditional surrender or we will fight and we will win. It's your call, Jones." I waited.

He hesitated. I could see he had no earphones or mike so he was on his own. He finally said, "I really came out to accept your surrender."

"We will fight. We will not surrender. We will not become slaves. We are governed by an elected group of leaders.

"Good luck, Jones. You'll need it." I began to back away.

He said, "Wait. We can work something out."

I continued to back away slowly. "There are only two options. There are no negotiations. There is nothing further for us to discuss."

I continued to move back. Jones looked very unhappy. Finally, he turned and trotted back to his vehicles. I ran backwards to my truck. On the radio, I said, "Get ready but hold fire until my command. Rocket launcher, pick a vehicle but not the one Jones is in. I don't think he wants a fight but needs some prodding to truly see the light. Jim Bob, start your folks our way slowly. George, you begin moving, too. Both of you watch your flanks and backs."

By then, I was getting into the truck. I waited a moment. Then, I said, "Rocket, take one shot. Pick your target and shoot." I heard a "whoosh" and the Humvee most distant from him exploded. "Team One, watch for a rocket launcher and fire on it at will."

One of our guys had a grenade launcher and used it on another vehicle exploding the big SUV. The lights on Jones car began to blink and the emergency flashers were turned on. Jones stepped out waving his white flag with both arms in the air. I said, "Hold fire but be ready." We waited and Jones came forward sill waving his white flag and keeping his hands in the air. When he got about half way, I stepped out and Pam got out of the driver's seat to stand on the other side of the truck. We waited for him. I scanned the other vehicles in the Memphian group for any sign of offense. I warned everyone by radio to watch treachery.

I waited until he was about ten feet away before speaking. "You can stop there, Jones. Is this surrender? If so, where are your men? If not, what is it?"

Jones said, "I surrender. Some of my men will surrender, too. Others want to withdraw."

"Not acceptable. Go back. There is no negotiation. There will be no withdrawal. Those who want to surrender may exit their vehicles with their hands up and no weapons. Any others will be killed. Any attempting to withdraw will be killed." I got back in the truck, as did Pam.

Jones' shoulders slumped. He said, "We didn't know you had rockets. I will go back and talk. Hold off for a while."

"We will only attack those who come at us or who try to withdraw. Go."

He headed back. I was watching and saw a figure move up with a rifle. I quickly realized Jones was probably the target. My rifle and scope was in my hands. As I brought it up, I quietly said, "Hold your fire." I squeezed the trigger gently and hit him with a nice headshot. He toppled backwards. Jones made it back to his truck and began to talk to his people.

After a few minutes, he came back out waving his little white flag with his hands up. Behind him were a number of people with their hands up. I had remained standing at the side of my truck. "Lovie, stay put and cover me. It looks like it's over but looks can be deceiving. They are not of one mind."

I stood out from the truck and shouted, "Come this way, please." They walked slowly toward me. I tried to watch them and to watch the remaining cars in front of me. That was a losing battle but I tried.

When Jones was close, I said, "How many are still back there?"

He was troubled but said, "Five wouldn't come out. They've heard the other groups were wiped out and no prisoners taken."

"I don't know where they heard it but it's not true. We have a number of you in jail waiting the end of this." I said, "Break, this is Robby. Is there anyone close to the jail with a radio?"

A voice came back, "Yes, Sir. I can be there in sixty seconds."

"Great. Call me when you're there."

I looked to my left. "Jeremy, don't you have loudspeakers on that truck that can broadcast our radio?"

"Yes, Sir. You're thinking to have one or more of the prisoners broadcast to the holdouts?"

"Correct. I don't want to kill anyone unless we have to. Otherwise the guy trying to kill Jones here would have started heavy shooting."

"General Robby, I'm here."

"Good. We have the surrender of Jones' regiment and there are five holdouts. If someone there knows these folk and will tell them that we don't shoot people who honestly surrender, it would help."

Okay, are you ready?"

"Jeremy, light it up." He gave me a thumbs up. "Okay, we're ready."

Over the loudspeakers and earphones, we heard, "This is Tom Moore. I am a prisoner in Henderson of the Protection people. They don't shoot prisoners. They are tough fighters and they bandaged up two of us. Give it up!"

Another voice amplified said, "Anyone else want to speak?"

"Yeah, it ain't fun being in jail but dead is really bad. If you don't surrender, they will kill you."

I came on and said, "Okay, out there. You've heard that the killing prisoners rumor isn't true. Either shoot or surrender. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready." We were processing prisoners as quickly as we could. Each one was frisked and their hands zip tied behind them. They were led behind our line and told to sit down. One of our ladies had an automatic rifle and was guarding them.

A moment later, three men came out and began to walk toward our line. I was uneasy and their hands were not up. I said, "Stop where you are. Raise your hands palms open and toward me." Instead, they went to a throwing stance. I yelled, "Grenades! Shoot 'em!" Not one was able to let fly before bullets knocked them back and dead. The other two came out charging and firing. They died.

The first battle of Memphis was over.

I called up Jim Bob and his men to take our prisoners and keep them somewhere safe while the lead party continued in toward the cultivated field and the prison building. To my surprise, there were only two guards when we drove up. One was smart and the other was stupid lifting his rifle. We had one more prisoner. Pam, Jeremy and I went inside the building. Squalor was the nicest way to describe the living conditions. We released everyone. My folks had to come in and help them out. Pam went through the halls yelling that they were free. Protection had defeated the Memphians and wanted them to regain their lives in freedom and dignity. She later told me that some would never be normal again. Their bodies had sustained too much abuse for too long.

This situation didn't bode well in my mind for what we might be find since this was supposed to be a newer location. We all grouped together with George and his nursing group helping the captives.

Jim Bob and I went looking for and found a jail. We found all the keys to lock them securely. Jim Bob had them brought over and we installed them in cells. Two of our ladies would watch over them. They weren't real good with guns but could hit people close range. I reminded them as we left that their lives were more important than even scratches on our prisoners. They should shoot and shoot to kill at any sign of resistance. I made sure our prisoners heard that so they would know their guards' lives were more important than theirs.

Jim Bob and I questioned the prisoners about other locations and staffing. They all claimed the only other location was their main one where the Grand Commander was located. There were supposed to be two more regiments there plus a few other guards and other persons. We now knew where they were located. The only troubling item was they all claimed to know nothing of the arms at that location. I suspected there would be some unpleasant surprises there. They all claimed to know nothing. Finally, I said, "Gentlemen, you know we have radios. Both of your guards have husbands who will be in the attack. If their husbands are hurt or killed because you were not forthcoming, they just might come in and shoot you. If I were here, I would permit it. Before I leave, are there any last bits of information?"

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