Copyright© 2012 by Terriblethom
I finally was able to get our sandwiches and my quart canteen, and a big blanket covered gallon canteen plus five bottles of water to carry with us. Brenda told me that the bottles were for emergencies and that the water in the canteens had been sterilized for me and the Chief. I was again told to be careful and use the radio for help if we needed it. I finally made it outside, and the buggy was sitting outside the door with the Chief doing a last minute check of the fluids.
"Have you ever had any experience in one of these, Marshal?"
"No, but since I will be driving you can explain that mess that looks like a computer as we go along. From looking at it, I would say it is well armed and before we go anywhere, take that damned bright orange flag off that antenna. If we come under fire and have to hide in an arroyo, that thing would be a dead giveaway of our position."
He gave me a dirty look but did as I asked, folding it and stowing it behind his seat. I got in the driver's seat and turned the key. I got a big surprise when there wasn't much sound from the engine or exhaust pipes that were sticking almost straight up in the air. I jabbed the accelerator pedal a couple of times, surprised at the power I could feel coming from what I thought was a small engine. I got a quick letdown when he reached across and shut it down.
"This isn't a car and before we go anywhere, I need to give you a quick lesson on what this thing will do. It is equipped with a seven hundred cc engine taken out of a Honda motorcycle and adapted to fit in the rear compartment. It has an automatic four speed transmission and the top end is over a hundred miles an hour. It has a built in fire control that operates an electric Gatling gun hidden under the front grill. It is well above the ground so if we hit on the nose it won't clog or jam it. It will only rotate ten degrees right and left so we have a limited fire control. The top rails above the seats are air compressed powered grenade launchers that carry five high explosive grenades in each tube. If we use all of them, we will have to reset the mechanism and hand load ten more grenades. The Gatling is belt fed with limited ammunition and as you can see we have a small machine gun that is stand up hand aimed to cover our rear. I put our water and food in the battery operated cooler and we have three radio frequencies. One is for home, which is set for here. One is for direct contact to the Fort, to call for backup if we need it. The third one is for any snipers that might be near our position. We can use them only if we have to, as they are more important as observers around the area. Marshal, I know you're no idiot, so let's just get used to operating together for the first few hours we are out there. If we get in the crap, we have to know how each of us will react while working together as a team. I know I am your second, and I also know you know what you're doing from prior experience. Our rifles, as you can see, are above the front window on rubber straps which release just by pulling firmly down. Oh, and as long as we are firmly strapped in, we can survive rolling over several times. This thing is light enough so the two of us will be able to roll it upright if it lands on its side or top. I have changed several things on this one to try to make it more stable for use around this area. We have extra tires bolted to the top but unless we shred a tire or bend a rim, we shouldn't need them. The tires are gel filled and almost impossible to destroy under normal circumstances. Ok, let's roll, shall we? I have the radio and antenna for your friend packed in foam in the back."
I guess I was shell shocked or something because for the life of me I couldn't think of one damned thing to say. I started the engine again and slowly drove towards B1 to head for Granite Peak. When we got through the barricade, I went straight ahead and stopped on top of the bridge. I got out my binoculars and looked east up towards the New Mexico line to see if there was anything moving. I planned on running down ten to eighty and going that way to Granite Peak. As I pulled out again, seeing nothing moving, I wondered to myself how much of a beating I was going to take riding around in the desert in this thing.
"They still haven't found out where those raiders you ran into have their home base."
"Well, tell them to go to the ranch where they were killed and track their vehicles back from there. We haven't had any storms or hard winds so the tracks should still be there. Besides, McGuire might want to recover the vehicles and maybe he can find out how many of his people are involved. We gave them the GPS readings for where they were."
"I bet they never thought of it from that point of view. Let me pass it on to them when I check in after bit. Oh, and your young lady made me promise I would check in every hour."
"No, the other one. The one who runs your life. If you don't mind my asking, is she related to you?"
I gave him a dirty look then grinned and explained me and Shelly and why she acted the way she does. I also told him the circumstances of how I had adopted Sarah. He just looked at me seemingly a little shocked. Before he could say anything, I was going off the exit on eighty and saw movement to my right. I automatically gave him the hand signal for alert and what direction from my old Nam days. To my surprise he understood it immediately and as I slammed on the brakes, he was out the side with his rifle and circling the building. I stood up and walked to the front of the buggy and yelled out for anyone to come out that we wouldn't hurt them. I yelled again then heard a grunt as the Chief came around the side of the building with what looked like a woman, but from her looks she hadn't had a bath in quite a while as she was a filthy mess.
"She's not one of those things, but she has been badly mistreated, Marshal. She has bruises all over her face and she looks like she is starving. She hasn't spoken a word and as soon as I grabbed her, she just gave up and didn't fight me."
I got out one of the bottles of water and offered it to her. She snatched it away from me like she was afraid I would take it back. She drained it in about three big gulps. I told her to slow down or she would make herself sick. She looked at me and I saw she had green eyes and both of them were black and blue. I could feel the anger rising when I saw the cut on her cheek. It looked like it was infected because it was swollen and red and puffy.
"Ma'am, we are not going to hurt you. It looks to me like you been hurt enough. Can you tell us where you came from and what happened to you?" She didn't answer me and just glared at us both. She didn't try to run so I thought that was a good sign. I offered her more water and this time I told her to sip it slowly so she wouldn't get sick. I tried again asking her where she was from and even named some of the closer towns, but it elicited no response, other than the ever present glare at us.
"Chief, I don't know what else we can do. I won't force her to go with us, but again I don't want to just leave her out here all alone. You got any suggestions?"
"I agree. She looks like she has been through hell, but it isn't our place to force her to do anything if she doesn't want to. If she doesn't want to go with us, give her a couple of bottles of water and a sandwich and tell her to hide until she recovers a little. We can come back this way and give her time to decide what she wants to do."
"NO! Don't leave me! They will find me and kill me for running again!"