We Got Girls That Can Clean... by Rich
Some of Sanchez's ancestors had been known to hang people over slow fires and boil their brains, and right now that didn't sound to her like an unreasonable idea. But it wasn't going to be that simple.
First of all, even Wanda admitted that her story was hearsay; she trusted her friend and believed what she'd heard, but she hadn't seen it herself. Sanchez prevailed upon her to call her friend (whose name she still wouldn't reveal), and get her to put them in touch with the woman who was actually a witness. It turned out that the woman had passed through the refugee center back at the school only two days earlier, and had been well treated by the people there; she didn't mind confirming the story as long as her name didn't appear on any official record.
Sanchez had to think for a while before accepting that condition. As much as she might want to just obliterate the man, he was a U.S. citizen; and she was a U.S. military officer. Martial law gave her a great deal of latitude, but there were both legal and moral limits to what she could do in such a case, even in wartime. What she had, basically, was an anonymous accusation (officially
anonymous, anyway); it might be probable cause for an arrest but it was well short of legal justification for summary execution. She knew that there would have to be some sort of official proceeding, and in that case she'd need someone to testify under oath before this was over.
It was Jennie Halleck who pointed out the obvious. "Well, Ma'am," she said "Our first job has to be saving the girls, right ? If we can do that, than they'll
"Maybe," Sanchez replied "If
they're still alive...Of course, he'd want to keep them alive as long as possible, otherwise he'd have nothing to buy off the demons with. And if they're dead, that alone might be enough to convince a court. And I can't believe that I actually just said that."
The next problem was getting to him. The woman had confirmed that Sugarbear was still operating in the same location that he'd been using for a decade, right in the middle of the most crime ridden section of Warren (and according to the internet, Warren had a very high crime rate for it's size). The location was well inside the town, which was packed to the point of overflowing with monsters.
The Rangers had been as angry as she was when they'd heard the story, and were willing to make an attack in force; partly because they were preparing to do that anyway. It might work, but it might also result in the recovery of nothing but bodies. She needed to find another way.
There were two options that she could see; go in fast and hope that the demons wouldn't have time to react, or go in sneaky and hope that they didn't notice. Neither one was very promising.
They settled on a combination approach. They'd sneak in if they could; Jennie's hunter-killer team had had a lot of practice at that, and they had some advantages that more conventional troops didn't. The crystals that Doreen had made for them had a "masking" effect, similar to the don't-notice-me spell which she'd put on the truck; it wasn't perfect by a long shot but it had helped a lot in Youngstown. Jennie had some spares, which would be needed because either Sanchez or Jefferson (and maybe Randy) would have to go along. Because Slayers and Gurkhas didn't have the authority to arrest anybody, no matter how much they deserved it.
On the trip out, they'd have a prisoner and and hopefully passengers with them, and some of those might be wounded. Carrying them through enemy territory wasn't likely to go well, so instead they'd be picked up by helicopters. Since the Rangers didn't have helicopters, Sanchez had contacted the 101st to set up the extraction. Their commander had been very cooperative; the Slayer teams had helped out his troops on many occasions, and he was happy to return the favor.
She would have liked more time to plan, but that was a constant. Time was always in short supply. Especially for any of Sugarbear's girls who were still alive.
Just as in Youngstown, the area along the Mahonning was zoned for industrial use. They'd use the open area along the river as a route for a probing attack. Zhukov's recon lance would go first, supported by Gurkha GEVs, and Seydlitz's Strike force. Commander Rana would be in overall command.
This was the first time that she'd been placed in command of a sizable group of mechs, and she had mixed feelings about it. The responsibility didn't faze her; she'd been dealing with responsibility since adolescence (which was longer ago than she liked to think about). But mechs weren't exactly the kind of vehicles she was used to handling, and the mechpilots had their own way of doing things. She wasn't worried that they'd need encouragement, she was worried that Seydlitz and Zhukov might not know when to stop. Especially Zhukov.
There were some buildings in the area that should be defensible, and if the opportunity presented itself to gain a foothold in the town, or along the river, she'd take it; but the primary goal of the operation was just to attract the attention of as many demons as possible.
If the demons were attacking her, then they wouldn't be attacking Sanchez's team.
They'd stick close to the river, for the most part, and let the enemy come to them - and there wasn't much doubt that the enemy would
come. If not, then Sonya would have to begin probing into the town to provoke a response, but they were all hoping to avoid that.
Her own mechs would stick close to Rana's GEVs, at least until the fighting started in earnest. With luck, their speed would surprise the monsters. It might be possible to set up an envelopment and catch them in the open.
She knew that they were worried, and she knew why. They thought that she'd try to kill every demon in town singlehanded, and lead them all into a disaster. She'd never do something like that.
Even if killing every demon in town sounded like fun.
The sun was going down when the probing attack had left half an hour ago. By now, the demons should be starting to mass against it.
Her party would move west on I-80, then up Todd Avenue, travelling in vehicles until they passed what looked on the map like a railroad yard. They'd leave the vehicles there and proceed on foot, trading speed for stealth. Jenny and Milcah led off on monocycles. Sanchez and her group - Jefferson and Randy, both of whom had insisted on being included, and a team of Gurkha scouts - followed in a GEV.
They'd gone north from the reservoir until they hit the river, then crossed it at West Park and traveled along a railroad on the east side. The terrain was mixed, with some light woodland. Sonya led with her Osirises under Keogh, keeping the Piranha lance well back. A knowledgeable human commander might have wondered about that. Commander Rana just raised an eyebrow and nodded.
There were a few scattered groups of demons along the way, but nothing the lead lance couldn't deal with. They didn't get hit with a serious attack until they reached a large open area on the right, with several large warehouses - which turned out to be occupied by a small army of Fyarls. The Osirises were surrounded in less than a minute. They stood in a circle facing outward, firing steadily, while the demons swarmed in a closing circle around them.
A human opponent might have seen the trap she'd laid; Rana had. Sonya hadn't held back the Piranhas because they were slower, but because they were faster
. They raced up to the battle and began circling the demon horde, firing inward into the mass; just as Sonya had been drilling them for the last two days. The Fyarls could have overwhelmed the Osirises or broken through the Piranhas; but to do either they'd have to coordinate their attack - and Fyarls didn't coordinate well. They weren't fireproof either.
By the time Rana and Seydlitz arrived, almost all of the demons were dead. But there were more coming. Packs of monsters were converging on them from both the west and the north. They'd gotten the enemy's attention.
She let Milcah lead. The Kenyan girl didn't have Tamiko's "Slaydar", but her other senses were just as sharp, and her hearing was sharper than Jennie's. Plus she could run forever; evidently that ran in her family.
They'd only had to cover a bit over a mile, but it had taken over an hour. They moved in a crouch, placing each foot carefully and stopping frequently to listen. virtually every building they passed had something
in residence, but even so nothing detected them. They could hear the Gurkhas behind them, but Jennie didn't think anyone else would.
Sanchez was almost as good. The ones she worried about were Jefferson and Randy, who weren't trained for this kind of operation. They were doing well for amateurs, so far.
They only had another hundred yards to go.
There were three large warehouses. There were still demons inside, but only a few - her troops were able to deal with them quickly. The GEVs formed up in line in front of them, while the gun-mortars deployed between the buildings. This protected their flanks but limited their field of fire.
Field fortification had been a Ghurkha specialty for centuries. The group of buildings were quickly transformed into an impromptu fortress.
Seydlitz's fast mediums moved around behind the buildings and attacked the demons from the other side, relying on their speed to avoid getting trapped. Rana thought that she could guess where Captain Zhukov had learned her tactics. It wasn't entirely an encouraging thought.
It was working, though. The demons actually pulled back briefly, and her troops used the opportunity to scurry forward and lay some claymores.
There had been a man-sized demon dressed in leathers guarding the door. Milcah just walked up to it and waggled her fingers. Sanchez thought she must be insane; evidently the demon thought so to, because he just gaped at her. He was still gaping when the long bladed spear drove through his body. He never made a sound.
Milcah's spear was a traditional weapon among her people. It was a litle over six feet long, and nearly half the length was a narrow, double-edged spearhead. Milcah had sharpened hers like a sword, and Sanchez knew that she could use it like one when she wanted to.
They'd already confirmed the presence of people inside. They were in a room on the second floor, in the back of the building. Jennie and Milcah also estimated that there were at least four vampires in there, also in the back, on the first floor - probably a kitchen.
Milcah and two Gurkhas went around to the back of the building. The rest of them readied their weapons. Jefferson stepped up to the door, but Jennie waved him back. She held her sword with one hand on the grips and the other on the blade in front of the hilt. Sanchez noticed that that part of the blade wasn't sharpened; the weapon was built to be held that way for fighting at close quarters.
Jennie pounded the pommel on the door. "What the hell are you up to, you stupid biker ?" yelled someone inside. Jennie pounded again, and they all heard someone stomping towards the front of the house. The door was yanked open, and a vampire stood in the opening and said "I SAID
Jennie slammed the pommel into his nose, and before he hit the ground she'd reversed the blade and taken his head off.
They all raced inside, and Sanchez could hear the back door crashing open. By the time she and Randy reached the kitchen, there was nothing to find except a pair of kukhri-weilding Gurkhas and three piles of dust. Milcah was nowhere to be seen.
She heard noise from the second floor and hurried up the stairs. When she arrrived, she found Jennie, Jefferson, and the remaining Gurkhas standing on one side of a large room. It looked like someone had turned it into an improvised dormitory; there were mattresses on the floor, several of which were occupied. Across from them was a short man in his underwear. He might once have been muscular, but he'd gone to fat years before. He wouldn't have been impressive at all if he hadn't been holding a razor to the throat of a girl who didn't look more than twelve years old.
He knew how this would go. Whoever these people were, they wouldn't risk the life of Daniell. They'd bluster for a while, but in the end they'd put down their weapons, and then he and Danielle would be gone before they could follow, out the window behind him.
Why were they smiling ?
Something tapped him on the left shoulder, and he turned to look, and never saw the slim brown hand dart over his right
shoulder and grab his right hand. He sure felt it when she squeezed, though.
When he came to, he was pinned to the wall by a tall slender brownskinned girl, who held him a foot off the ground with one hand. The other hand held a yard of sharpened steel to his throat. "Bitch, you broke my damn hand !!" he shouted.
"Not all of it" she replied. "At least half of the bones are still intact. Call me a bitch again
, and that could change."
"You can't do this !" he said. "This is Police Brutality !"
"I'm not with the police." she answered.
"Now, I want you to pay attention. This
," and she raised her spear, "is the sort of weapon which my people used to use to kill lions. Do you know how large a wound you need to make to kill a lion ?"
He shook his head "no".
"Do you want to find out ?" she asked, and now the spear was leveled well below where his belt would be if he was wearing one.
He saw a couple of guys in Police uniforms behind her, and said "You gotta help me here !"
"I'll be happy to," said the big cop. "You have the right to remain silent..."
I'm not completely happy with this, but it seems to be a good stopping point. I'd welcome any suggestions.