She mouths … “...fuck me hard climbing the cliff...” … like I'm some kind of Icarus.
“PCH has strange strategic importance. Can't shoot sea-otters without it!”
Screaming! “You hear what I say? I'm scared you take a bullet and won't knock-me-up.”
We're bunking in 2nd wave of a diversionary attack. Banski promised. I'm on-agenda. “Militia mobsters patrol PCH freely from Moro Bay to Carmel. And Federal Agros raid those patrols every week. Agros and something else … something worse, mebby a fuel-cell drone with next-gen AI not 4-layer recursive baboons. Shred some. We need to stabilize mobility.” What the fuck …?
Five AM. Our dory leans scuppers toward a narrow beach three miles south of Nepenthe and 150 meters ahead. Mebby 200. Russian 130-mm smoke-flares rally confusion, all but obscuring sandy run-ups to the cliff. First wave longboat smokers help, but only half of the 20 get to shore; wet fibreglass and redwood shreds burn clean. A mean-spirited western swell does no good and our oars back-bust to fight it. The Federal 30-mm and 57-mm ranging shots from above PCH focus a half-mile behind, where Russki 1980 vintage LOx&kerosine subs alternately fire smoke and 130-mm frags into the hilly wooded scatter of Ranger pickets. Defense-in-depth strategy … and Mobsters has moved larger calibre guns to the front. Bitch. They own the sweeping hill behind Nepenthes cliff and we're tasked to butcher them out of it. A few Seals vacationing from Bremerton and SanFran units … rudely named fagfins have already climbed to and crossed PCH; radio-tagged they engage the most horrific hand-to-hand fire-fight as waves #1 & #2 reach up to join them.
Expensive landscape, the wild Pacific coast mountains we buy every yard in blood. Our Federal opponents are pros … mostly light infantry from theOld Hickory division, groomed from white southron trash never read the Constitution, but like to shoot squirrel from stands and spotlighted deer from fast moving trucks. Slaughtered buttfucking Pashtoons in Afganland. Lean farmboy killers … better than Federal scabs deserve … snipers to a man, at 800 meters their 334s or 50-cal steel-points will drill out your wandering front tooth. Lee and Longstreet people; should be ours.
A litter of finned 105-mm AA explode premature over one sub. It's sound-pulse tecknos; 70 years old it still suborns INTEL v1820s. Raw physics beats digital faggots any time. Then a flock of 37-mm AA shot vertical fall to earth clipping away two oars.
Oarsmen vomit into the stinking bilge. “You pussy better piss overboard. HIV urine is the worst.” Who laughs? “Where in fucks name are the Black-Widows?” Yes, the Militia does fly dual propeller double-prop ground-attack units from the Hurst air-field. With 3300 HP per-engine and shotgun starter, ex-A10 pilots drool and mini-14 toting women lose their knickers. Late again, I think. Pilots likely balling weed-rolling night nurses.
“Here must be special.”
“Here, but not there.” Lieutenant stands two men away. He sez casual. “Colonel said Russians wanted this attack-point cause the underwater ridges hide their attack-subs from the chi.coms. The Chinese sub propellers vibrate a low subharmonic … a design flaw thanks to malware kludges from Hitachi … and Russian phase-leach sonar jumps that like an alley Tom on a Siamese kitten. Within fifty clicks of Big Sur , Anadyr Alfas killed four Qing-class missile-launchers last month.”
“You know lots.”
“Used to be Navy. Commander. Got canned when I reported new Russkis attack subs losing 15 db noise signature.”
“Honey-pot reported pillow-talk. Hot bitch screw your head off. We're all gonna die.”
Some troopers smile. A bald man cries. Grey Russian subs glow like lanterns in the fresh sun; fucks with Federal optics. If you hawk-eye at the brightest shine, any stiff cross-wind sends fast-damping orange ripples along the skin. Light counts … also a rough weedy slough our bow pounds through. Still silvering bright in sun-shadow of the Pacific range a rifleman lower than 500 meters may not shoot you straight. That's physics too. Below the cliff-shadow we are almost safe. Aug 17, 20XX our 30 man longboat approaches the no-back danger point, where mornings hot, uphill wind-flush, oceans tangled sea-weed and newly buckled body-armour makes retreat impossible. Now. Has been. Never was different. Rare cases of raw cowardice got pitched out-of-the-boats.
Ms K. mic taped to her throat, licking my neck and whispering into my bloody ear. “If you aren't scared lover-boy you aren't breathing.”
Her mouth can get a man thinking. Cold. I shake. Shudder. The very early 20-mm round had nipped a slab from my right ear and it hurts like three butt-fucks. “Can it.”
“We're still running plan-A; since the sub cut us loose we're streaming live with a 15 minute delay.”
I know that. Reportage has got modern fast. Most digicam electro-optics are strapped over her shoulders, with a steering lens fitted to her left eye. 'Wired to your clit' I snarked when the new unit first came. I got a head-rattling double slap for my trouble and followed with a rape scene worthy of Huma Abedin. Ms K. took more than her share , in loveglow swearing she'd never take another BCP. And if I tried ass-fucking her she'd shoot it off!
Now she's all business. “Hot action baby, doubles the banner-billing. HRI today making $8000/min
from commercial overlays till the battalion commander says BOO!” Her eyes glow feral. “Fed static got washed out, by the 2-nd Ukraine satellite feed. Your pals Will .. lucky … Billy-Seal just called; he's renting another T3.”
Christ her hands all-over; she wants to take my pants off. Ms K. has funny ways of showing fear. She has positioned the digi-cam far-field lens through an iron hawse - - self-leveling display so the swell doesn't count. The scattered 7.62-cal feelers pocket our hull, and CCDs would not keep one out of her eye.
“Close up now, close up” yips the boat Lieutenant. “Form and hold phalanx till we hit the cliff. Then tulip, peal off like you sisters cherry.”
“She hasn't had one since 5-th grade.”
“Must be yo mama.”
“Younger sis gave all three to a football player. Slick bastard. I broke his knee with an iron pipe.”
Russian fog-balloons shreik lifting to the upper range. Limestone clip..clip at the boat bottom. Twenty parallel longboats for 1000 meters. Then the stop-dead-shock , gritty, wood cracks, a wave lifts us farther. We use momentum to slide over the hull into knee deep brine, then forge together. Phalanx. The idea is … close arrayed armored men form a Roman 4-A shield of head/chest/arms/knees against likely infantry-grade bullets. You survive a pelleting. Cross-wise, 120-mm mortars or rare 90-mm RR or RPG kills everyone.
“You bitches on HRI, there's such a slow-mo speed to it you move faster than electric, slower than mud.” Soaked through we get 5 paces though the cool morning salted air … Christ you can smell the life til behind us 81-mm mortars shatter three longboats.WAMWAMWA …. Body armor takes splinters, but the five closest men look like porcupines. One has taken a wooden spike through his neck; blood squirts and he twitches uncontrolled on pebble-shell. “Medic … medic...” How-the-fuck can they guess … “Tulip, bastards tulip,” shouts the Lieutenant.
Done that. We can see dozens of men from the first wave struggling above us. From seaward the cliff slopes north-to-south. “Bravo two, Bravo two we're right behind y ...” A mortar explosion cuts off the sentence like a garlic press. “Fuck you bastards row harder!”
There's no sunshine where we've been. None ahead. “Assault infantry grind up the cliff. Some climbers have found knotted alpine ropes fixed by the Seals and move upward quickly. A few dance upward in a rock ballet. Rest of us struggle for wet mossy handholds or rock-climbers wedges. Warm rising air pushes up, while rain-drop 7.62 cal verticals strike down.” I find a flint-seam and follow it up, holding on by opposing palms and pushing apart. “An East-Coast archi-perv named Hricko taught me that trick, while we climbed a seaside Cypriot sandstone face looking for a 4000 YO ledge some Cybellion priestess … oh shit was that old.”
The flint seam holds and I'm driving nails for Ms K. Off to one side a headless Sargents body hangs from such a spike. Catch me rapping exotic Assyrian love-words … right behind me fuck she cuts them out to her electronic spyders-web. “Every so often a man slips or is struck and falls screaming to the tulip line just off-beach. Most climbers dodge Okey. You can't fight and you can't hope and you can't demonstrate high-resolve. Just cut my fuckin' hand on a flint shard.” Gravel spills in-a-ring from above onto my steel helmet. Steel and Kevlar layers filter best. I've found a pocket , hunch in, light a red and pass it back.
“Button it in,” I say, the 357-cal Dan Wesson. We each carry and have agreed capture is not an option.
“Are the Federals holding?”
Fuck, I found the pocket … three 50-cal fmjS thrash dirt singing feet above my head; the pocket must be popular and I say so. “Heard those bitches? Hope the bastards bolt-action froze! Lucky me. Some men just die bad between the beach and the asphalt ribbon of PCH five steps beyond the cliff-top. Bitch rips your muscles. I'm going there now …” scrambling like maniacs scramble over spilled Meth … “up, up and over the cliff-edge. Road poxmarked … bodies litter … that's it, up we go Ms K … poxmarked, but clear of … got that … holy fuck ...”
The 120-mm mortar flare explodes between us and the light tank. Militia didn't have so many, but dedicating hardware means the ruse must be taken serious. Tank - called a PICKET after the Confederate fool they had long legs and sharp teeth, like now squirting its 76-mm explosive rounds into a rocky ridge not 200 yards uphill. Fire and counter-fire. On target, the Federal thermite round fries us or snaps the tanks ceramic shell, boils through one-inch armor and cooks-off enclosed shells like Chi.com new-year sparklers. Didn't happen. My face takes a heat-slap; I got a sunburn and the tank looses a for'ard IR sensor. I see it's melted. On target, the 3200 ft/sec 76-mm rounds bust through rebar concrete, digging deep into the squirrel-hole and the mortar's shooting blind.
We spread and two more flares burn through the asphalt. “Run you bastards run. Uphill ...” the tanks loudspeaker blares. Men freeze to the road … or have filtered onto the road from below, or slide back to the west-side berm from above.
“Save those arms and legs,” I rap to a medic? He's without helmet, bleeding from the mouth, shell-shocked without any needles, bags, splints or strength. “No perks?” He fishes, hands me a plastic strip. I tuck his super-cap shocker into a pocket and lay him beside the asphalt.
Russian shelling has become more intense, a string of Black-Widows dip low to release their carnage and far above through shattered trees I can see leaflet snipers retreating uphill. Feet above us steel and lead pellets plant the airspace like an Iowa cornfield in April. Ms K. slaps my head running by, diving behind the first sized elm, then scrambling upward to the 2nd. She squirms left and right to overtake, lizards between shattered tree-trunks, roll-over and slide past one-after-another assault trooper fleshing in the continuous firefight with names and blood and sweat; what she leaves I never will ask. Rifle, TOW and grenade fire turns the hillside grey and flashy, full of warning and thick with torn bloody flesh.
“Feckin-A answer Ms K!” Radio goes in-and-out with static bursts. We're near the front line and I look for command - - so Militia leaders are trained and don't see or hear any. Does the assault form a picket-line, push up toward the plateau or dig in roadside? In a mad dash I've caught up and caught a 5.56-cal in my 4-A chest-plate.
Second, then a 3rd growling PICKET carooms north, past the current firefight toward an over-sea lookout at Nepenthe. Four married women rangers , their husbands martyred says Ms K who swam to one-only interview have held it for a month. Bouncing zooming shit-to-hit light tanks might survive. Their 76s now manage a few random passing engagements, but they aren't gonna marry us. They may need line-of-sight signaling to ships-at-sea in this electromagnetic zoo. Or mebby push over the hill to flare-carved Ventana. Feds made a million-mile view-post there ... where exploding big California Cabernet consumed busted pleading cherries … that heaven made outlook after a raid and got surrounded by a Salvia-bred hippie unit from Esalen. Federals trapped and picked off to zero by the stoners next evening. I think so. What can you see in this mudhole of pine and cordite and tracer-paths? Nothing! A stone-face trooper rolls down, over a rotted stump and beside us. His shoulder's a bloody mess and Ms K. smacks a clotting, opium jab into his neck. Auto tag snickers his name and he say. “My wifes name is Riva, Cleveland Ohio. It's a black neighborhood so watch yo' white ass. Tell her I love her.”
Then to our right a dull-metal thruster makes salad of branches above. Looks like a squid with two-suckers per tentacle. It fires a rocket at the tank and turns uphill. Redeye smokeless path, the rocket finds instead a redwood with an imbedded, untriggered 105-mm burster. The dual explosion rips the 300-YO redwood like Odins chainsaw. Thruster turns, looking perhaps for another shot. Our 357-cal plink & sink helpless into spongy plasti-metal skin , but mebby its ticklish cause next second it flits away through a ravine uphill and craggy and vine-crusted. Ms K. is screaming like she just cut off Xerxes balls.
I'm beside her at the sixth tree, a small meadow and stream-bed just beyond and we have gained 80 feet of hillside when the tank siren shrills our code-numbers. The 3rd wave is crawling up our backs; Ms K. scrambles for'ard and lunges atop a face-down trooper whose M-14 fires a continuous trickle of 3-round bursts. His head raises and falls. I pull her off, back, down only then recognizing the zombie shooter-from-reflex he's very dead.