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Authors: Glen Tate

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BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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Sap came over and said to her, “Go back to the squad.” He wasn’t sure if she’d snap on him, too. She seemed to be slowly processing everything that had happened.

Sherryton stumbled in a daze down the street back toward the squad and walked right past them and to the brewery building. She wanted to wash all the blood off of her. The blood was from that man, and she didn’t want any of him on her. She also didn’t want the kids to see that. That’s all she could think about: the kids can’t see this.

Anne Sherryton collapsed. She could no longer stand. As soon as her knees hit the pavement, she started throwing up. Great, she thought. Puke and blood all over her clothes.

Sap was busy having Squad 4 move the bodies out of the street, which they threw into the bushes near the utility box. They needed to get those out of the way in case some Limas came by. Ted was getting all the other squads out along an even bigger and more reinforced defensive perimeter. Grant was up on the observation floor making sure no Limas were coming and listening to Jim Q.’s radio.

Nick stayed with Sherryton to make sure she was okay.

“Did the kids hear this?” she asked him.

“No,” Nick said, lying. He wanted to reassure her so she could focus on recovering. “We told them to cover their ears right before everything happened.”

Sherryton smiled and felt relieved. She didn’t want the kids to hear such violence. They’d already lost so much innocence.

After a minute lying on the ground, she wanted to get back up. She felt embarrassed for having this reaction and knew, as a woman, she had to be extra-tough to prove her worth. She didn’t want to get ripped off and only get the easy work just because she was a woman and couldn’t hack it. Although she knew that she had proven herself by volunteering to be the coyote bait. And what she did with the knife.

“Still no Limas,” Barlow said up on the fourth floor. “For now.” He questioned the wisdom of baiting the gangbangers. He would have let them go and focused on remaining undetected.

“What’s next?” Grant asked Ted.

“A counterattack,” Ted said matter-of-factly. “If they can possibly muster it. Which, I’m starting to think, they can’t. But we need to be ready for it anyway.” Ted told Grant about the various squads on the perimeter. They even came up with a quick evacuation plan, which included grabbing the kids in case a bunch of Limas or some armor came at them.

Grant hoped no Lima reinforcements came because he wanted to be right about his idea to attack them. He couldn’t contain his concern about his decision, so he looked for confirmation from Ted.

“Still think it was the right decision to attack them?”

“So far, yes,” Ted said. “If we get attacked, then no. But,” Ted pulled Grant close so no one else could hear and whispered to Grant, “never second guess past decisions. It’ll get you killed. Make a decision and go with it. Don’t look back. Don’t let the men know you’re having second thoughts. Got it?”

Grant whispered back, “Sure. Thanks.”

In his normal speaking voice, Ted answered Grant loud enough for the men to hear. “Yes, sir, that was the right decision. Those bastards had it coming. And now the 17th has shown the world that our training paid off. I’m proud of this unit.”

Killing those guys was a big morale boost. Not that people enjoyed killing. In fact, they hated it, but they had worked so hard for months. Many of them were raw civilians. They didn’t know if they could pull off such a feat. They’d been keyed up for about thirty-six hours now. Two of their friends had been killed and a third injured. And now they had worked together and killed some bad guys. They’d put all their training together and done some nice work. They knew that their training had turned them into fighters.

They spent the rest of the night on the perimeter, rotating people in for an MRE and a nap. Everything was quiet except for the sound of gunfire and occasional explosions in the distance.

Grant felt way better after eating an MRE. He couldn’t remember what meal it was; he just knew that it tasted good. He had been getting woozy before he gobbled it down. After eating, he grabbed a twenty-minute nap which made all the difference in the world.

 

Chapter 298

Regular Military

(January 2)

 

 

“We have visitors,” Barlow said as he looked through his binoculars.

Sap called in an alert to all the squads with radios. Runners from the “Chairborne” squad went from the squads with radios to the squads without them.

“How many?” Sap asked Barlow.

“Uh oh,” Barlow said. “Uh oh,” he repeated.

Grant sat up from the floor he was resting on and looked at his watch. It was 3:23 a.m. and silent on the fourth floor. The only sound was the gunfire and explosions from somewhere outside.

This might be it, Grant thought. They had gotten lucky with a half dozen drunken thugs. All eyes and ears were trained on Barlow and his NVBs. Barlow was concentrating.

“At least thirty of them,” Barlow said. “Oh wait.” He started counting under his breath. “Correction: more like fifty.”

Everyone on the fourth floor was terrified, including Grant. Especially Grant. He instantly thought his decision to kill the gangbangers was about to get his guys killed.

“Actually, make that eighty-five,” Barlow said. “Military uniforms. Standardized weapons. M4s,” he said referring to the military designation for ARs. “Some big tubes. Looks like anti-armor weapons. Could be Javelins,” which was the military name for a shoulder launched anti-tank rocket.

This was very bad news. Whoever these guys were, they would be able to kick the 17th’s asses. While the 17th had the advantage of being in a defensive position at the brewery, the trained soldiers had gear like Javelins. It wasn’t much of a match.

“They’re moving like they know what they’re doing,” Barlow said. “Definitely regular military.”

Grant shuddered. “Regular military.” That scared him. He realized that they had thought they were pretty badass slaughtering some drunken idiots, which was child’s play compared to a real military unit.

Irregular, Grant said to himself. The 17th was only an irregular unit. They were tough and could fight, they just didn’t have as much training, or especially the gear like rocket launchers, radios, night vision, and machine guns, like a regular unit.

And the kids. Grant thought about all the innocent little souls on the second and third floors. One of those Javelins could kill all of them.

“They are stopping at the intersection,” Barlow said. That was the same intersection by the Baskin Robbins that the gangbangers had stopped at. “Setting up a defensive perimeter while they call in on the radio.”

The radio. Duh. Grant and Sap simultaneously told Jim Q. to ask HQ if any friendlies were in their area. Jim Q. did so, talking in that weird, incomprehensible language.

After a moment, more of that weird language squawked on the radio. Jim Q. smiled.

“We have friendlies in our area,” Jim Q. said in English. “HQ is making contact now with who they think is at that intersection.”

Another pause followed by more squawking in that weird language.

Jim Q. said to Barlow, “The friendlies have been told to have three men hold their rifles up in both hands as a signal to us.”

Barlow was looking through the NVBs. Nothing.

Grant looked at Sap. He mouthed “Go time” to Sap. As in, it’s time to fight this regular unit. Sap closed his eyes as if to say, “Oh God.”

This was it, Grant thought to himself. We’ll see if you really don’t mind dying, he thought. He waited for his brain to say something to him. All it said was “Don’t fail your men.” Not “be afraid of dying.”

Sap walked over to Grant. They had some planning to do. Sap told a soldier to go find Ted and get him up to the fourth floor.

“The signal!” Barlow yelled out. “There’s the signal. Three men with rifles over their heads!”

Jim Q. said something excitedly in his language into the radio. A moment later, something came back over the radio in that language.

“We are supposed to link up with them and temporarily house them here,” Jim Q. said.

Sap got on the intra-unit radios and told the squad leaders what was happening. A welcoming team of three soldiers from the 17th went up to the regular unit and brought them into the brewery building.

Grant went down to the first floor to greet their guests. Thank God they weren’t Limas, he kept thinking. He had a whole new appreciation for how much danger they were in. Up until this moment, Grant and the Team had always been the best armed and trained in any fight. The looters in Olympia, the meth house in Pierce Point, the Blue Ribbon Boys that the scouts took out and, of course, the gangbangers.

Grant was curious to see who this regular unit was. As its members came into the first floor, he looked for any insignia on their uniforms. They had the standard “Wash. State Guard” name tapes.

Soon, a man in his 30s came in and asked to see the commanding officer.

“That’s me,” Grant said as he saluted the man who returned the salute. It was battlefield conditions and they were in a building—two reasons not to salute—but this was a momentous occasion. Both of them saluted without even thinking.

“Captain Edwards, Bravo Company, Third Battalion,” said the man.

Awesome, Grant thought. A regular military unit. A company commander. That meant a company of about a hundred men.

“Lieutenant Matson, 17th Irregulars.” Grant said.

“Pleased to meet you, Lieutenant,” Capt. Edwards said. He looked around and was very impressed with this irregular unit, which appeared squared away. They had decent weapons and were organized.

“What can I do to assist you?” Grant asked. He needed to remember that Edwards was a Captain and therefore Grant wasn’t the head honcho anymore. That was fine with Grant. But, he had to admit, it was weird taking orders from a guy ten years younger than him. Oh well. That’s how it was. And Grant was happy to take orders from a regular military officer, which meant they were now paired with a well-trained and well-equipped unit, and thereby had a better chance of successfully completing their mission and making it back home alive.

“Is this place secure?” Edwards asked, as he was looking around.

“Yes, sir,” Grant said. He and Ted explained the perimeter defenses.

Edwards was not overly impressed with the defenses. They were okay and, for a lightly armed irregular unit, pretty decent, but Edwards was an FUSA Army officer. He was used to having plenty of equipment. Helicopters, radios, battlefield computers, mortars, anti-armor rockets. He worked with soldiers who had several years of structured training, not a few months of training in some remote camp.

“We’ll augment your defenses here, Lieutenant,” Edwards said.

“Excellent,” Grant responded.

“I’ll rotate my men and feed and rest them,” Edwards said. “You have food here, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Grant said. “Not a lot. MREs.” There went the rest of the 17th’s MREs. But Bravo Company was on the same team. Sharing was an unspoken expectation. Those MREs didn’t belong to the 17th. They belonged to the mission.

Grant and Ted briefed Edwards on all the aspects of the brewery, including their guests on the second and third floor.

“Kids?” Edwards asked, appearing slightly puzzled and annoyed.

“They came with the brewery,” Grant answered.

“I understand the situation you’re in,” Edwards said, “you’ll get them out of here as soon as it’s safe, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Grant promised.

“What are your orders?” Edwards asked Grant, now that the immediate issues were resolved and they could focus on the bigger picture.

“To enter Olympia from Highway 101 from Frederickson, where we were based, and to assist regular forces. Occupy. Stabilize. And do civil affairs. That’s kind of my specialty.”

Edwards’s eyes lit up. “Civil affairs?” he asked. He hadn’t expected a specialized mission from an irregular unit. “That’s great,” he said to Grant. “That’s what we need on an urban battlefield. Especially when the civilians are our own Americans. What was your civil affairs unit? The 84th Brigade at JBLM?”

“No, sir,” Grant answered, sheepishly. He looked around to see if others could hear him and softly said, “No prior military training. I sort of took a small community outside of Frederickson and turned it into a thriving and functioning place. I had help, though,” referring to Rich, Dan, and the others at Pierce Point.

Edwards nodded. Oh great, he thought. The commander of this irregular unit is some civilian … politician. Some small town mayor or something. Fabulous.

“What did you do in civilian life?” Edwards asked Grant.

Grant hesitantly said, “Lawyer.”

“Great,” Edwards said sarcastically. He quickly realized his tone would undermine his men’s, and Grant’s, respect for Grant’s authority. He decided to fix that. “Actually, that
is
good,” Edwards said. “We’ll probably be detaining and hanging a bunch of these bastards.” Edwards decided to give Grant even more esteem in the eyes of the soldiers. “Hey, we’re citizen soldiers so we welcome everyone from every background. Welcome to the battlefield, Counselor.”

BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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