Thursday, January 13, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 16c - by Nova

There was a beat of stunned silence while they absorbed the fact that the world champion Indiana Militia mascot was no more.

As soon as they had come around the corner I had been doing the death math in my head. Who is armed with what? What are the angles for my shots? Who has the right and wrong look in the eyes?  The big what if? running all the time in the background.  One of these days I was going to guess wrong and pay but I didn't care. If anything it just made it better.  What was weird was I had sucked in math all my life but I was good at this.  Good enough that you could have blindfolded me right then and I still was sure I could run the table.

In that one stunned beat of time I shot two of the Militia guys in the face, then I recocked and dropped the Rugers back in their holsters.  Unsafe? Who cared when the fraction of a second saved made all the difference in a gunfight. While I did that I read faces. The waitress was just raising her hand to wipe blood and brain spray off her face. The couple that had been at the bar when we came in were dropping their jaws. The remaining Militia guy was going for his gun. They hadn't brought their rifles with them and this wasn't rifle work anyway. Woof had launched and brought down the bartender. That left five people, the bouncer and Militia guy being first in the queue. 

Max had told me "Never react the way they expect. Act in the way that benefits you first."  Well, it was something profound like that. Anyways I had been working and refining my responses since. Plus I liked blade work, maybe more than I liked my Rugers.  Also it made a difference I had found.  In close quarters a long gleaming piece of steel totally scared people who might have hung in there and exchanged rounds with me.

I drew Sword, stepped forward, and buried the blade about four inches into the remaining Militia mans gut.  Sword could be swung with two hands but the blade was shorter than "real" swords.  It had been made with the dominant infantry weapon of the world in mind, the Roman short sword, and had been adapted to the conditions that came 400 years later. It was deadly in close and I liked getting close. I screamed "Freya!" then stepped forward again and punched the couple with two quick jabs of steel.. 

I turned, trying to relocate the bouncer, and tangled my feet in the bartender who was on the floor screaming. I had decided to skip him and it had been a mistake. I had gone forward to reach the couple and he had used that extra bit of time to pull his weapon. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, turned, did the math, and thrust Sword at him while screaming "Freya! again"  It was enough to make his first shot miss and for me to draw and not miss. 

I turned again and saw the waitress coming fast and already way to close with a steak knife gripped tight in her hand. I did the math and thought "Shit. I fucked up." There was a loud bang and she stopped, looked at Zane in surprise, opened her mouth to say something but it remained unsaid because he shot her again. I looked at him, his face was white but his hands were steady and he was still pointing it at her as she went down. 

I told him "Point it down and stay with Woof. I have to see if we're clear." 

I was moving towards where the kitchen had to be when he stopped me in my tracks.  "Gardener. I killed her."  It wasn't the words that stopped me. It was how he said them.  I knew he was having a moment. The problem was there was no time for it.

"Yeah. You saved my life too." Then I got moving.


  1. Awww I'll be happy when Zane gets back to his Mom.

  2. Gardner does not play well with others, nope he does not. He needs to see Night and calm down for a while


  3. I didn't think of it that way but you are right Forrest.

  4. pant pant pant....whew....


  5. Did Max have a combat kill before he joined the military?

    Sure, it's Zane's first kill. But age makes a huge difference. So does the circumstance. There's a big difference between a 19 or 20 year old trained soldier killing an enemy combatant versus being a kid and shooting a waitress in a bar.

    That's a long way from normal and it's going to leave scars.

  6. Edit/ addition to last post:

    The times are different and no one can expect normalcy, but Carol's going to find a far different child than the boy that was taken from her when Zane returns. For a number of reasons, including the bar incident. The same will be true for Zane: mom's not going to be what he remembered. Not that they won't still love each other, they will. But they'll both be different from how they remembered each other.

  7. Good, good,
    Gladius clone makes behind-shoulder-draw possible. Early leaf-shape
    is sweet thrust or swing! Curious, though why Freya's own warrior would wield favored blade of the ENEMY, when Freya's own culture brims blades that fit his hand with surety. SEAXE, Seax, Scramseax, Langseaxe, etc. today's names mix and roll. Glacial scree, granite tumbles laser sharp streams; granite's sharp edges rounded. Close by, iron clangs and whines, gains edge granite lost. Blades form , blades fit to
    carve Kingdoms. By THESE blades were foes slain, much gold gained.
    From VIKS we sprang, reivers we were, armed with pounded blade, and by these blades did many rivers of blood flow, of southern brown-skins, waving their Gladius.
    Sorry, got a bit carried away. Just to say, addicted to your work, PLEASE write faster. Woodeneye

  8. D^2,

    Yeah. Real good points.

    If this was to happen the entire US would be filled with potential PTSD cases.

  9. Woodeneye,

    Those are cool blades. Very nice. I suppose the Germanic tribes would have used Roman patterns. I think the Celtic blade owed a lot to the Roman leaf design too.

  10. Well,
    Dang, Nova. You the man. If you would like to know why you are about 99% wrong, say so. Otherwise, just make me go away! Woodeneye

  11. Sure. Tell me why and where. Seriously.

  12. Function dictates form. Viking blade makers were just as smart as Roman ones, and their fighters were approximately the same. No surprise that a useful pattern within millimeters and a few percent of weight when the same materials were used in distant (in time and space) civilizations.

    There are no obsolete weapons.

    Indiana "militia" seemed all-style and little substance (coordination, force protection, training). Probably right on.

    AA is advancing to ever-more horrorshow as the US economy advances to the scenario found in the first book with car-people and Gardener hanging out in the woods.

    Thanks Steve.

  13. pdxr13,

    Yeah. We are about to start the next leg down. In real life the militia would be owned by the Zone in that it would be riddled with corruption and informers.