Jethro Goes to War (Wandering Engineer Jethro's tale) (72 page)

"Welcome to the
world we live in," Shane said softly as the medics pushed
Chuck's gurney out the door. He gave the poor rookie less than a ten
percent chance of survival, and less than a one percent of keeping
the arm. The medics would do what they could but it was a long trip
to the mall.

The radio squawked,
interrupting his ruminations. "Hellcat pack, one down, two WIA,
one KIA. Six confirmed, two probable. Send back up." There was
another roar, followed by more gun shots and a scream.

"Right away,"
Shane said with a nod. "Time to get back to work," he said,
catching a couple tampons Frank tossed him and then snagging a
chocolate nut frosting container from the open pantry. There was
another roar, followed by a second and then a third. He scowled. From
the sound they were big ones. Not good.

...*...*...*...*...

"What's the
take today?" Bobby asked wearily as he exited the truck. He
looked around; most of the gear they had gathered was already being
processed. Hadji was over on the left talking with Liam, the load
super this shift.

"No idea man,"
Jody said shaking her head. She rubbed at her shoulder. She'd had a
close call when a jack had popped out on her. Fortunately nothing was
broken, just bruised. "Any word on Chuckles?"

Bobby frowned and
then blinked. "You mean Charles?"

"Yeah. Mister
Chew toy."

"Funny,"
Bobby said looking over to Hadji who was coming over. "Any word
on Charles?"

Hadji nodded,
nodding to Jody and the crew behind them. Bobby looked over his
shoulder to them and then back. "Word is he's out of surgery.
Lost the arm, no surprise there."

"Figures,"
Jody muttered.

"But he's
alive. Whether he'll pull through without getting infection..."
Hadji shrugged.

"What's the
take?" Tater asked, hefting his potato gun on one shoulder.

"Will you go
put that damn thing away?" Jody asked testily.

"What this
little thing?" Tater asked grinning as he moved the gun to port
arms. "Not a chance, I managed to bean a creepling today. Didn't
kill it, but it damn well knew it was kissed. I want to trade up
though." He missed his air mortar. A valve had cracked on it so
it was in the shop. That sucked.

"Yeah well..."
Jody looked at him scowling then shook her head at his innocent
expression. She turned on Hadji. Wasted effort arguing with Tater
anyway. He'd just grin and do his own thing anyway.

Hadji cleared his
throat and nodded. "Not a bad haul. New neighborhood, no
surprise there. Couple good caches. Enough for a couple hundred
people easy."

"Hell of a way
to get food," Jody muttered, rubbing at one arm.

"Talk about
costing an arm and a leg. Or at least an arm," Tater said with a
shrug.

Jody and the others
turned on him. He gave a serendipitous smile and shrug. "Just
sayin, is all."

"Yeah well,
still sucks," Bobby muttered, trying to think of what to say to
the boss. Hell to the man's family.

"His fault. You
told him and told him not to open shit in the safety brief man,"
Jody said nodding and patting his shoulder. "Listen, look, poke
at a distance, make sure its clear before you open up anything."

"Yeah man, its
on him," Tater said shrugging. "Guy was a waste anyway; he
was on to me about the black market. Like we've got time for that
shit."

"Some do
unfortunately," Hadji said as they started to move with the
crowd to the doors. The sun would be down soon. "Showers?"
he asked.

"Hell yeah,"
Bobby said, nodding. He felt all itchy despite the cold.

"You need it,"
Jody said with a sniff of disdain. Tater had drippings all over him.

"We picked up a
cache of weapons and ammo. Two of them actually," a guy said
nearby, they looked his way as they walked, slowing instinctively.
"Anything on that guy who got chewed?"

"He's alive.
Lost the arm," Jody said, raising her voice. The other group
looked her way.

"Not that guy,
the other guy. The one who got ankle bit."

"Dunno,"
Jody said shaking her head. She looked at Tater who was about to open
his mouth. "Don't say it," she said in exasperation.

He paused, frowned,
cocked his head as he looked at her and then shrugged. Bobby snorted
softly. "Come on, shit shower and shave. Tomorrow is another
day."

"Throw in a
steak and a beer and I'm all for that," Tater said moving
faster.

"Can't do that,
but there might be pizza or burgers. Dunno," Hadji said.

"Yippy,"
Jody said in disgust, head down, shaking her head. She preferred
salads and subs. Both were in short supply these days. Hell, so were
burgers and pizza. Everything was.

"Yeah come on,
before they are all out," Tater said moving faster. Jody snorted
but fell into the big guy's wake with the others.

 ...*...*...*...*...

The doctor sighed
wearily as he toweled off. Another day of meatball surgery. It was
getting routine now, and he wasn't sure he liked the implications.
Ten people maimed for what? He turned to a see Shane there leaning
tiredly against the door frame.

"How are they
doing doc?"

"The guy who
lost his arm is in ICU. I'm not sure we got all the sepsis, we'll see
if he pulls through the night. The abdominal wounds were mostly
superficial luckily."

Shane nodded. "What
about the others?"

"A few broken
bones, a couple scrapes and bruises. For what?" The doctor
demanded, tossing his towel into the hamper. "A couple cases of
ramen?" Shane followed him a bit then stopped near a counter.

"A bit more
than that actually doc," Shane said, leaning back against the
counter behind him and crossing his arms. "Food, weapons,
material, water, and ammo."

"Which we..."
the doc paused and shrugged. "I heard we got some stuff from the
government? FEMA?"

Shane nodded
reluctantly. Yes they'd gotten that one delivery. Fifteen loads of
food, weapons, ammo, and other stuff. Everyone had been happy about
it, morale had skyrocketed that there were still people out there
looking after them. It had been hard getting people back into the
grind of going out and trying to keep things moving. The fact that
there wasn't a follow up flight a week later had helped, but they'd
gone through some grumbling until that fact had sunken in. That and
the fact that all the air drops had managed to give them was a couple
of days of food for their entire population. "Some doc. But we
do this for three reasons. No four." Shane frowned.

The doctor looked up
at him and cocked his head in inquiry. "And they are?" he
asked, pretty sure he knew some of the answers.

Shane cocked his own
head in thought. After a moment he blew his cheeks out and nodded.
"Well first, this stuff isn't going to be good forever. Some of
it has a short shelf life. Which is why we're doing this."

"I thought you
said there were four reasons."

"There are,"
Shane said with a nod as he watched the doctor go to get dressed. He
turned to look politely away. "Second, the stuff we get from the
government is a
bonus
. Something we can't count on as a
regular thing. We can't become dependent on it. I don't want to get
shortened. We need a safety net, at least a three month supply."

The doctor paused
with his shirt half on and looked at him. Shane shrugged. "All
good things come to an end eventually doc," he said.

"Okay, I'll buy
that...."

"The third is
training. We need to get our people out there, handling the
situation. Training on the weapons, the situation, and learning about
the aliens as much as possible. Hell, more than four. Just thought of
other reasons."

"Really?"

"Well, another,
killing the damn aliens now during the day before they get big."

The doctor
reluctantly nodded. "Seems like we're losing as much as we're
gaining."

"It seems that
way sometimes doc, but we're killing ten times as many as we lose."
Shane admitted to himself that the way the aliens breed it was still
a losing proposition. Hell, loosing experienced people was a losing
proposition. Sometimes though, you had to be the cold bastard and
risk your people to get somewhere.

"Still not
enough," the doctor growled pulling his pants up.

"It never is
doc, it never is," Shane sighed, shaking his head. He rubbed at
his brow.

"Another
reason?"

"You really
want to go out there or send people out there to scavenge for food a
year from now? Six months even?” he shook his head again. “Now
is as good as we're going to get. It'll go downhill from here if we
bunker up doc. Trust me on this. The aliens get bigger. I'd rather we
kill them and keep the food for us." He grunted. “Hell if
I'll let them eat it and use it against us,” he muttered.

"How bad are we
on the supplies? I thought we had enough?"

"Never enough
doc," Shane said as the doctor put his shoes on. "Never
enough. I think we keep hovering around a two month supply." The
doctor looked up at that. "That's with what we bring in, which
is about a days’ supply for the entire group. That doesn't
include the extra mouths we pick up daily."

"So we're
getting what we're eating?"

"There about I
think, some goes to the black market, and some is fed to the animals
for various reasons. But we're getting a diminishing supply, that
means its finite."

"Yeah,"
the doctor said. "So there is an end to this?"

"No, I'd like
to tell you there is doc, but this is the world we live in now.
Better get used to it or find another line of work. Don't try mine,
its worse. Just a suggestion."

"Great,"
the doctor sighed, rolling his shoulders. "The ankle biter as
you call it is also in ICU as well.” He shook his head.
"Severed the foot, ripped up the calf, dislocated hip and knee,
and shattered most of the bones in the leg."

"Ouch."
The cat had probably shaken the kid like a rag doll when it had taken
the foot.

The doctor sighed.
"Yeah," he said softly. "You could say that. Ouch."

"I tell you
what, let me buy you a cup of coffee and some dinner now..."
Shane said in sympathy as he patted his shoulder. "At least
while we've still got stuff on hand."

"I'll skip the
coffee. I need to sleep. But I'll take you up on dinner. If your
lovely wife doesn't mind."

"Great,"
Shane said nodding. He waved to the door and followed the doctor out.

"Thought you'd
be with your family?" the doctor said as they made their way
through the crowd.

"Jen is busy
with Doctor Phillips again, the girls are volunteering at the day
care, and Nick has training tonight."

"Oh, so I'm
you're date?" the doctor asked amused.

"Something like
that doc. That way if I'm propositioned I can foster the better
looking ones off on you and run for cover."

"Gee thanks,"
the doctor said, grinning.

"Survival
instinct," Shane said sounding smug. "Jen would have my ass
if I even thought of straying." His lips flickered in a quick
smile as the doctor chuckled softly.

...*...*...*...*...

There are concept
images of the aliens floating around on the web. Some may be on my
blog by now. More will be posted later.

 

Expect the book
around late 2012 or summer 2013! (I hope)

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