We were a small combat element, just our squad leader, Rick, alongside Yuk, Slab, and Helios — some of the most battle-hardened warriors in the entire Civil Defense Forces. And me, of course. I took up the rear, green as could be, still not quite sure how to properly sling a rifle, much less put it to use.
My call sign is City Mouse if that tells you anything.
This wasn’t my fight. And taking up arms against my own country isn’t something I did lightly. Until a week ago, the only real combat I’d seen was on Twitter. But I heard what my government was doing in in the Free State of Oklahoma, and it made me sick. Told my wife I couldn’t just stand on the sidelines anymore, then I hopped on the first flight out.
My first morning as a paramilitary began peacefully. We checked in with Kaid, our young but steady commander, who had holed up at our forward operating base with a shortwave. On a table in front of him was a detailed map of what they were calling the area of operations (the AO) but what used to be just the sleepy town of Roosevelt, Oklahoma. That was before a battalion from the Union of Federal States showed up, talking about elections and trying to install the snake-talking, Stetson-wearing Dan Altman, their little puppet, as governor. Good luck with that.
We were slogging through the rain, a few klicks from the FOB, when we first encountered the enemy. “What you fellas getting up to out here?” the lone UFS infantryman barked as we emerged from the tree line. Heck of a question to ask a bunch of armed men while standing on their land. The soldier looked to be barely out of high school, but he spoke with the puffed-up arrogance typical of all tans. (That’s what we called them because of their multi-cam uniforms.)
We figured the UFS would set up a cordon but not this far out. The good news was that our compatriot Raptorman had apparently slipped right through the perimeter. Despite his fondness for reefer, that rascally old fucker was as sneaky as they come. Go, Rap!
Rick answered the soldier in a jaunty tone. “Me and my boys just come out here to do a little hunting.”
“Mmm-hmm. Y’all got any grenades on you?”
“That wouldn’t be fair to the deer, now, would it?” Rick replied smoothly.
“How about you, buddy?” the soldier asked me, his eyes narrow. “Carrying any explosives?”
“No, sir,” I said, lying through my teeth.
“Well, y’all better go on back that way. This here’s a restricted area.”
Slab lobbed a warm stream of dip juice into the dirt near the soldier’s boots and glared at him. For a second, nobody moved. I stole a glance at my AR to make sure the safety was off, but we didn’t want a firefight. Not yet, anyway — what with Coco Bear heading to the polling place at that very moment with a little surprise strapped under his work jacket.
“Actually, our deer blind is right up that path, and we best get to it before some other knuckleheads set up there,” said Rick, flashing his salesman smile and sweeping right past the sentry, who did nothing to stop him.
As I fell in line behind my new comrades, I was surprised to see the UFS guy trembling. And why not? Sure, they had better training and superior firepower, but we had the numbers. And more important, they were just there for a paycheck. We were fighting for our liberty.