Alex paced back and forth and watched the sun go down over the trees.
“She’s only been gone for a few hours. She’ll be back,” Cass said.
“It’s getting dark,” he said.
“She’s ridden in the dark before,” Cass said, but this time he saw the worry on her face as well.
Lisa stood up from her chair across the fireplace and checked her pistol.
“You’re worried? Then let’s move,” Lisa said.
He took a deep breath and stood up.
“Cass, go grab one or two more people for our search party,” he said.
She jumped up off the couch and dragged her limping boyfriend with her.
“She can take care of herself,” Lisa said.
“I know, but this feels different.”
She put a hand on his cheek and looked at him. Her eyes showed calmness and reason.
“You say we go look for her; we go look for her,” she said.
He kissed her hand and she closed her eyes as he did so. She smiled. It was the smile she reserved just for him.
Then they went to their separate rooms. He knew that would change eventually, but not when. So far all they had done was kiss. That was no small thing though. A kiss with her was better than a thousand kisses from any other woman. Hers meant something. Each kiss was a flood of meaning and love.
As he strapped on his IBA body armor Adam ran into his room.
“Dude, there are three SUV’s heading down the road toward us.”
The Provisional Government of the United States. They said they’d be back but he didn’t think this soon. This was not what he needed right now. Alma was out there alone and now he had these idiots rolling up on him.
“Go grab everyone. Tell them to bring their guns and get ready for a fight. And I mean everyone.”
Adam nodded and bolted off.
He grabbed his M-14. It had more punch in case these jackwagons got cute and were wearing armor.
Lisa was in the hall with a PSL of all things.
“Armor piercing rounds,” she said when she noticed him eyeing it.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“The PSL is a fine weapon. Just sort of heavy, inaccurate and clumsy.”
When she turned to go down the stairs he saw that she also had her AK-SU slung on her back and a Sig on her hip.
She was ready for anything and that was one of the many reasons he loved her.
By the time he got to the living room he could see the headlights of the SUV’s pulling up into Town Square.
“Everyone, go to a window and pick your targets. Don’t shoot unless I give an order or they start shooting. Understood? Pass it along.
He went to the door and Lisa got on the other side. He opened it and peeked out.
Men were getting out of the trucks. They looked almost like mercenaries but they were too clean cut. Amazing how clean they looked considering a year and a half of apocalypse. Maybe they really did have a bunker.
It didn’t matter. They were here to take what they wanted and take control. Neither of those would happen.
“We came to talk,” a man in a white shirt and black bullet proof vest said.
The sun was almost down and the sky was a navy blue. The “government” men were becoming little more than silhouettes in the growing dark.
Some of the men were putting on night vision goggles.
“They didn’t come to talk,” Lisa said.
To the right of the town square he could see his people moving into position. They were hiding beside and inside the barn, behind vehicles and behind trees. They outnumbered the government men a good five to one, but most of his people weren’t properly trained and these guys looked like professional killers.
“Be reasonable, Mr. Attaway. We’re on your side. You’re hoarding resources and skilled people that we all need to put this country back on its feet.”
“We barely have enough for ourselves,” he shouted through the cracked door.
“That’s what they all say. You’ll have to learn to ration a little better but it’s better than having some others starve.”
“Maybe you’re with the government and maybe you’re not. It doesn’t matter because you have no authority here. We’re taking care of ourselves and don’t need your help.”
The white shirted man shook his head.
Cassidey came up beside him and scrunched up her face as she peeked out the crack.
“I count fifteen,” Cass said.
“Fifteen men that know what they’re doing. Maybe if we had a AT-4 or something.”
Then Cass perked up.
“Hold on here and don’t do anything crazy until I get back!”
Cass then ran upstairs without further explanation. He looked to her boyfriend who gave a confused shrug.
“Let’s break it down, Mr. Attaway,” the white shirted man said. “Yes, you have more men than us. Yes, you have more guns at the moment. But don’t think for a second that a fight with us will go well for you. Let me play devil’s advocate and assume you somehow win in a gun battle with us, which I assure you will not happen. Even if you win, you’ll still lose people. People close to you will die. That little Chinese girl might get a bullet to the chest. Then who’ll keep your bed warm?”
He saw Lisa tense up but she kept her cool.
“You want to risk that, Mr. Attaway? You want to risk your pretty house getting full of holes? Do as we say and nobody will be hurt. You’ll have plenty of food to last the winter.”
“And we’ll have to live under your rule, right?”
“Under the U.S. government. Besides, we’ll leave you alone mostly. It’ll be like old times.”
Then Cass came running back down stairs with an M4 with a 203 grenade launcher on it.
“Where’d you get that?” Alex asked.
“Thought it might come in useful.”
Then he remembered that he had one as well.
“Hold on and let me talk to my people,” he called out.
Then he dashed upstairs and grabbed his 203. he loaded it, snatched the bandolier of grenades and hurried back down stairs.
Adam came up to him with his M4.
“We’re not listening to these fools, are we?” Adam asked.
“Hell no. This is what we’re going to do. Me and Cass will fire the grenades at the same time. Then I want everyone else to open up. Don’t spare anyone. If one gets away, he’ll go back and tell his bosses.”
They passed the word around and then they all got into position. Cass took the window right of the door and he took left.
“I’ll take the rear truck and you take the front one. On the count of three,” he said.
Cass nodded. He looked around to make sure everyone else was ready. Hopefully his people near the barn would know what to do.
“You have five minutes,” White Shirt said.
They fired at the same time. The “blooop” of the grenade launcher pushed his shoulder and his grenade sailed in a lazy arc toward the last black SUV.
Both trucks erupted in explosions that were as sudden as they were brutal. The trucks they were using for cover became flying shards of shrapnel death. Most were knocked over, either dead or wounded. The few near the middle that managed to stay upright quickly took cover as bullets began to pour down on their position.
Alex put down the M4 and picked up his M-14. It was dark out and he had a hard time seeing any distinct target.
He heard the remaining SUV’s doors slam close and before he realized it, the black four door was peeling out in a cloud of dust. He took aim but his red dot was still set to a day time setting and was far too bright. All he could see was the glaring red light. He fired at where he guessed was the truck.
The others must have been having trouble picking targets as well because the truck tore out of there with a few bullets pinging its side.
Them getting away was not a good thing.
“How many got away?” He asked.
“Two, maybe three,” Lisa said.
“I think we just declared war,” he said.
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Lisa said as she rested the butt of the PSL on her hip and raised the muzzle to the ceiling.
As much as a war with a fake U.S. government worried him, the thought of Alma out there in danger worried him more. Now his search party will have to stay in larger groups and go slower to watch out for vengeful PGUSA men.
A delay was not something he wanted right now.