1 THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
Twenty-Three Months Since the Lights went out
Captain Love sat in the second of a four-vehicle convoy, three Humvee's and one LMTV, as they make their way cautiously down the backwoods dirt road. Ever since they had turned off the Congressional Highway and onto this unkempt road, they had been slowed down numerous times by natural roadblocks, such as downed trees and eroded roadways. There were also old remnants from the initial resistance, a group called Fathers of Liberty, more commonly known as FOX Fighters.
These structures were large tree trunks, re-enforced with dirt and rocks, used to create crude pillboxes, in order to provide fire protection for the Fox Fighters. In the end, though, no amount of earthwork can protect you if there is no form of support behind it. In the beginning, there were a lot of people willing to fight, to hold on to the American dream. Though with casualties rising and no real financial or military support, it wasn't long until the entire idea collapsed. Just as these dirt roads, the resistance too eroded and crumbled under the Regional vehicles, crushing the ideas that held the Fox fighters together.
In the past hour, they have only been able to travel a total of six and a half miles with approximately three more miles to go before they reach their objective. Activity in the region had been on the upswing over the past few weeks, adding extra work and stress to his daily routine. Looking out of his passenger side window of the Humvee, Love's eyes search out beyond the first row of trees that lined this dilapidated road, for any signs of an impending attack. Thus far all he had seen was a few squirrels and one young whitetail buck. The sight of the buck brought back a flood of memories for Captain Love, memories of an easier time back in Georgia.
He would look forward to this time of year, to get out in the woods with his son for a long weekend of whitetail deer hunting. Most of these hunts didn't produce any venison meat, but what it never failed to produce was quality time for him and his son. Time for just the two of them, no deadlines, no orders, just him, his son and the beautiful outdoors. But that was a different time, a different life completely. It was times like this that really hit him hard. It's easy to give up something or make sacrifices when the items you are giving up are detached and unseen, when they are just words with no physical attributes to define them. Now though, as he sat there in the passenger seat of a Humvee, those disconnected words did possess physical substance to them. Captain Love was lost in thought when the caravan came to a very sudden stop. Love jolted forward forcing him to jerk his hands upwards in a defensive position, to prevent himself from hitting the dashboard.
"What the hell Simons?" Love belted out without thinking.
In his defense, Private Simons just pointed forward to the lead vehicle which was also stopped just a few feet in front of them.
Releasing a frustrated sigh, Captain Love reached for his handset radio to inquire what the hold up was this time. "Jacobson, what do you got?"
"Chokepoint. Trying to figure it out, Captain.” Jacobson voice replied over the radio.
"Sargent, up front with me, Team One, set up a defensive circle." After giving the command over the radio, Captain Love pulled his Beretta M9A1 pistol from the holster attached to his tactical vest, pulling the slide back just far enough to ensure that there was round chambered, before he secured it back into the holster. He opened the passenger door, got out and made his way up to the lead vehicle. As he shut the door he gave a quick look back to ensure that the five-man team from the LMTV was setting up in a defensive position. Walking up to the driver's side of the lead Humvee, Captain Love was quickly joined by Sargent Hawk.
Corporal Jacobson was standing outside the lead Humvee with the driver’s door open, using the door as a type of shield. He peered through his Leupold binoculars at some obstructions which were set up approximately two hundred yards ahead. Corporal Jacobson handed the binoculars off to the Sargent then turning and pointing with his right hand, “Two hundred yards, there are two vehicles, one on each side of the road. They look like they have been there for a while, but considering the area and how far in we are, well, it’s where I would set up an ambush."
With binoculars in hand, the Sargent gave the situation his own assessment. "They've definitely been there for a time, but I agree with the Corporal. I say we send up Team One, two men on each side of the road, and then have the Corporal roll the lead Humvee up slowly in support. That way if Team One starts taking fire, the Humvee can pull them out quickly."
Taking the binoculars from the Sargent, Captain Love got his own view down range. Looking through the glasses he could see what looked like a Ford Expedition and a Chevy Suburban, off on the side of the road, the Ford on the right and the Chevy on the left. It was like they were just pulled off and left there with no worry in the world. Both of them had their backside facing in the direction of the strike force as it rolled up the road.
Time and elements had taken its toll on the two abandoned SUV's, between the layers of dirt and vegetation that covered most of the exterior, the colors of the two SUV's were all but indiscernible. Their once clean factory paint had been stripped away, leaving only flecks of paint that faintly resembled the original color. Now differing shades of rust orange covered the majority of both abandoned SUV's. All the windows seemed to be smashed out, except for the windshield, which was now nothing more than a conglomerate of glass spider webs, from it taking numerous strikes. Beyond that, there was nothing really to see. There were the expected bullet holes, most likely during the Fox War, but no sign of recent human contact. Despite the lack of human activity all of Captain Love's instincts were screaming danger.
Captain Love lowered the glasses for a second and turned towards the Sargent, giving him a nod, a simple gesture, but one that the Sargent was familiar with after over a year of working together. As the Sargent walked back towards the rest of the convoy the Captain raised the glasses again and gave the improvised deterrent another look over. With the Sargent barking orders in the background, he tried to focus the lenses of the binoculars, to bring in the details of the SUV to make them a little bit more discernible.
The Captain had been on the front lines ever since the beginning. He was a young Lieutenant, completing his second tour in Afghanistan when the blackout happened. At first, everything stayed the same, but it didn't take long for things to degrade, for order to be replaced by chaos. When they were first called back, it was a precautionary measure, strictly as a show of force, a sign of stability. By the end of the first week of the blackout, Congress held an emergency session where they decided to suspend Posse Comitatus, and then almost immediately activated every military personnel. With all the military activated, the entire nation was placed under Marshall Law.
At first, the troops were just asked to help with the local law enforcement, to act as an additional support where needed, but that quickly changed. Soon the troops were asked to enforce the law. He felt that what he was doing was best for the Country, but it never came easy, something about fighting Americans on American soil never sat right with him. But he kept telling himself that he was a soldier and soldiers followed orders from the superiors who received their orders from the Commander in Chief. There were many others that didn't see it the way he did, they voiced their opinion a bit louder. When the Fox Wars started, those who voiced their opinions ended up resigning their commission and simply walked away from their Military service.
The Fox Wars were a difficult time. At first, it was nothing more than a skirmish, between small groups of weekend warriors who tried to seize a small bit of power, during this time of instability. Majority of the nation, however, still held onto hope that once the power came back on, some form of normalcy would return. As he looked through the glasses once again at these improvised pillboxes, visions of the bloodier portion of the wars started to creep back from the recesses of his mind. It wasn't until the day the power was restored when the President stood on the Capitol steps during a live broadcast and announced that The United States of America was going to no longer exist, that American blood really started to spill out onto American soil.
The term Fox Wars came from a term used by the revised military to describe the largest group of resistance, Fathers of Liberty. The new military command referred to them as Foxtrot Oscar Lima, this later gave way to Fox fighters and later this part of new American history would be described as the Fox Wars. In the early stages of the Fox Wars, a lot of "Preppers" went into action, finally getting to flex their muscle and present a show of force, unfortunately for them they were all doomed to fail before it even began.
Years prior to the blackout, the government had stockpiled information on any viable threat, anyone who had a possibility of being a homegrown terrorist. There were hundreds of workers pouring over thousands of terabytes of information gathered from numerous locations. From websites visited, to purchases of "key" materials, down to the information gathered on those supermarket store discount cards used at the local store to get an extra ten cents off of a can of soup. All of this data, endless amounts of information, was gathered, cross-referenced and sorted. It was all used to compile a list of those who were deemed a threat to the safety of the greater good. Within days of the real Fox Wars starting hundreds of Fox fighter locations were hit, without compassion and without hesitation. Death and destruction rained down as Hellfire missiles fired from Predator drones were loosed upon their victims. Then a combined strike forces, made up of tier one units from both America and Russia, came in to mop up the remains, all in the name of security. Some outfits, stand-alone groups that didn't warrant Hellfire missiles or tier one units, did their best to make a stand, but in the end, Big Brother was just too big. Quickly those who still opposed realized that if they wanted to win they would have to follow the lead of their forefathers and fight an unconventional war.
It was these types of memories that always seemed to creep into the back of Captain Love's mind whenever he found himself in a situation like this. It made him think about some of his friends, those whom he had graduated with at West Point seemingly a lifetime ago, who saw the writing on the wall and left when they could. He would find himself at times thinking of them, wishing that he was brave enough to join them, to admit that what he was doing was wrong, but it's too late for that, what’s done is done. Now his biggest fear was that one day he would meet up with one of his old friends and this time they would be pointing a gun at him.
He lowered the binoculars and pushed these thoughts from his mind. A distracted mind in the battlefield can be as deadly as a bullet, his combat instructor always stressed. He turned his head slightly as Sargent Hawk called out.
"Everything is ready, Captain," The Sargent said as he stopped right behind the Captain.
"Thank you, Sargent. Make sure..." Captain Love was cut off mid sentence by a loud snap.
"Contact front!” The Sargent called out.
Captain Love looked down at his chest where a plume of crimson blood started to flower. He watched in wonderment as it soaked his ACU shirt. The moment seemed disconnected for the Captain, as if he was outside his body, instead of being a part of it. His body shut down as if a switch was turned to the off position. He first fell to his knees before falling onto his back. As his life faded away, stripping off his mortal coil, he could hear people shouting, the gunfire increasing. Finally, as his life ended everything went quiet, absolutely silent, and just like that Captain David Love was dead.