The Union Creek Journal

A Chronicle of Survival

Archive for the tag “national guard armory”

Ariela’s Escape

A huge explosion shook Ariela awake.  Instinctively, she rolled out of bed and hit the floor.  She waited silently for a moment getting her bearings.  This wasn’t Afghanistan.  She was in her little house in Nebraska.  The explosion didn’t make sense.

Ariela low-crawled to the dresser where she left her sidearm at night.  She reached up and grabbed the familiar Beretta, automatically checking the load.  Full magazine and one in the chamber.  Safety off, ready to go.

As a Marine, Ariela had gotten in trouble more than once for carrying her M9 in Condition Zero – loaded, round in the chamber and safety off.  In her opinion, it was better to receive an Article 15 than it was to end up dead because you were fumbling with your safety while someone was trying to kill you.

Fortunately, Ariela was an exemplary Marine in virtually every other sense so her company commander had overlooked the infractions.

There was a reddish glow coming through Ariela’s north window.  Her bedroom was tiny – barely big enough for her single bed and dresser – but it had two windows.  The north window allowed a nice breeze to enter the room in the spring, summer and fall.  The west window allowed it to pass through.

Ariela raised her head just above the window sill.  There was a huge dust cloud in the general vicinity of the armory.  She could hear secondary explosions and small arms fire from her location nearly two miles away.

“They didn’t wait,” she whispered.  “Whoever they are, those survivors didn’t wait for us to attack them.  They attacked us.”

Ariela found herself filled with a certain degree of respect for these people.

“They must be former military,” Ariela speculated.  “If we had attacked them, we would all most likely be dead.”

The next thought that popped into Ariela’s head brought an evil grin to her pretty face.  Enrique was at the armory.  He and the rest of the local crew would have been loading the trucks and getting ready to leave on her command.

Suddenly, it seemed, the Enrique problem had solved itself.

“Sometimes that happens,” Ariela chuckled aloud.  “Problems left alone often have a way of solving themselves.”

Of course, Ariela realized that she would need to verify.  “Trust, but verify,” pithy advice from one of her ITC instructors.

Ariela had been the third female to participate in the Marines’ Individual Training Course, the seven-month course designed to produce the Marines’ Critical Skills Operators.  It had been the crowning achievement of her life.  The Marines had only started allowing females to participate in Assessment & Selection the year before.  Two females before Ariela had been selected to participate in the ITC.  Both had washed out before Phase Three.  Ariela was the first female to complete all four phases.

Then, during an extended leave for her mother’s funeral … the crash.  Ariela was left stranded in Nebraska with no communication.  As far as she knew, the Marines had been shut down – along with every other department of the federal government – when the U.S. went bankrupt.

Ariela snapped back to the present as another secondary explosion ripped through the frosty morning air.  She could see the column of fire from her window.

“Must have ignited the propane tank,” Ariela thought as she began getting dressed.

Five minutes later, Ariela was fully dressed and armed with an M4 and her Beretta.  Her short, dark hair barely stuck out from under her boonie hat.

Twenty-five minutes after that, Ariela was scouting the area around the armory.  The place had been leveled.  Whatever had been used for the initial blast must have had the power of … Ariela caught a whiff of ammonia.  Of course, farmers with anhydrous … these people were not only competent, they were resourceful as well.

“Make use of what you have at hand,” Ariela recited the maxim as if she had learned it only yesterday.

From her vantage point, Ariela could see uniformed individuals advancing on the remains of the armory.  They all appeared to be wearing U.S. military uniforms but the uniforms were unmatched.  Some had more recent ACU’s or MCCUU’s.  Others wore the old Woodland BDU’s and still others wore the Desert BDU’s from the First Gulf War.

The uniformed troops systematically cleared the remains of the armory and killed anyone they found still alive.

“Ruthless,” Ariela whispered breathlessly.  She was slightly taken aback by the survivors’ absolute lack of mercy.

As Ariela watched the remainder of the operation, her admiration grew.  Some of the participants obviously had no military training but they followed what appeared to be a strict protocol, regardless.

Eventually, the group roared off with three still-mobile HMMWV’s, two Deuce-and-a-halfs, a Dodge pickup and a Ford Excursion.

Ariela stayed in place for another hour watching for movement.  She scanned the hills around the armory.  She scanned the houses.  Most had been burned to the ground and were uninhabited.

After about an hour and a half, some of the local citizens started to come out of the woodwork.  Ariela needed to blend in.  Most of the citizens had guns.  Ariela wouldn’t have to ditch her weapons.  She did, however, need to get out of her MCCUU’s and into some civilian clothes.

Ariela scanned the houses around her with her binoculars.  A man and a woman slunk out of a house about 100 yards away in the direction of the armory.  Ariela guessed the woman to be about her size.

After a quick recon, Ariela decided the house was empty.  The front door had been left unlocked.

“Not smart,” Ariela grumbled.

Inside, Ariela quickly found the couple’s bedroom and closet.  She dug into the bottom of the woman’s dresser drawers to find clothing that the woman hadn’t worn in some time.  Ariela found a stack of coats hung in the back hallway and selected one of the most generic that she could find.  It was a man’s coat – Carhartt – and only a little too large.  Nearly everyone in the area owned a similar coat.  Once Ariela felt sufficiently gray – as though she would blend in with those around her and go unnoticed – she exited the house and headed for the armory.  She imitated the pace and movements of the other civilians around her, trying as hard to blend in with her actions and movements as she had with her clothes.

As she reached the armory, Ariela could see that the civilians were picking it over without argument.  Everyone had reached something of a balance.  Things were in short supply.  You might have to do without a little bit but it was better to share with your neighbors than to shoot them or be shot by them.

“Amazing!” Ariela pondered the implications.

Although Ariela wasn’t there to scavenge food or supplies, she picked up an item here or there to hide her true actions.  She was looking at faces and body parts trying to find Enrique.  In all likelihood he would have been in the HQ room, Ariela reasoned.  He was probably sitting in that Aeron chair with his feet up on the commander’s desk while everyone else humped to get ready for the attack.

Ariela spit in revulsion and slowly made her way toward the back of the east end of the building.  The devastation was complete.  There literally was not a wall left standing on the back half of the building.  If Enrique had been in the commander’s chair when the blast hit … he would have been nearly obliterated.  Ariela resigned herself to trying to find a piece of him.

As she sorted through the rubble, Ariela picked up a few items.  Suddenly she stopped.  Protruding from a pile of broken concrete blocks was a hand.  The hand had rings on every finger.  Enrique always had loved his bling.

Ariela tugged on the hand.  The crumbled blocks grated against one another and toppled to the side.  Along with the hand came an arm.  Ariela turned over the arm to find a panther tattoo.  Enrique’s pride and joy.  Oh, how he loved to flex his fat forearm to make the panther move.

“What an idiot!” Ariela had hidden her feelings about her cousin for so long, the phrase passed her lips involuntarily.

Ariela removed the rings from the fingers and tossed the arm aside.  There was no sign of the body under the same pile of rubble.  However, Ariela did come across a skull fragment nearly embedded into a piece of concrete block.  Attached to the skull fragment was an ear.  In the ear was a one karat diamond stud earring.  Another sure sign.  Enrique frequently twisted the earring when he was thinking – or doing what passed for thinking when it came to Enrique.

Ariela was sure of it.  Enrique was dead.

Of course, along with Enrique went the National Guard armory and its resources … and a few members of Ariela’s extended family.

“So much for that part of the plan,” Ariela groused, focused on the loss of resources.

As she turned to investigate the motor pool, a black Cadillac Escalade pulled up.  Ariela knew before he stepped out with his guards, it was her uncle, Fernando.  No one else would be burning gas and driving an Escalade these days.

As the civilians around her started to scatter, Ariela scattered with them.  She hadn’t decided whether it was better for Fernando to think she was dead or know that she was alive.  Keeping him in the dark, for the time being, was probably the most advantageous Ariela decided.

Ariela made her way back to her small house, grabbed her bug-out bag, packed a few more things in her Marine-issue duffle bag and headed out through the back door.


Februay 10, 2015: Monkeys

I finally had a chance to tune in to some short-wave radio over the last couple days.  Although the weather is still wintry, it would seem that the world is starting to see some sprouts of recovery and re-growth.

From what I can tell, China is leading the way on the international front.  Reports seem to indicate that they were not hit as hard by the crash as were North America, and Europe.  For some reason, I haven’t been able to find out much about the other areas of the world.

It sounds as though Chinese troops, under the United Nations’ crest, will soon be boots on ground in many of the harder-hit countries like the U.S.  No one seems to have much more factual detail beyond that, but there is plenty of speculation that the Chinese forces will essentially be repo-men, disguised by the blue U.N. helmets, looking to gobble up any remaining assets to collect on the debts owed them.

Certainly plausible.

The densely populated areas of the northeastern U.S. were hit hardest here in the states.  The less-populated areas around the cities seem to have fared a little better but were overrun, in many cases, by looters in the mass exodus from the more metropolitan areas.

Destruction in rural areas of the country, like ours, has mainly been limited to larger towns and smaller cities.

Remnants of the old U.S. government are trying to pull together a new, provisional government based in Portland, Oregon.  I haven’t figured out whether that’s a good thing or not.  Too many remnants of the pre-crash government will simply lead us right back to where we were a couple years ago.

It’s like the story of the monkeys.

Scientists put five monkeys in a cage and hung a banana on a string.  Beneath the banana, the scientists put a set of stairs.  The monkeys could climb the stairs to reach the banana.

Every time a monkey climbed the stairs and touched the banana, the scientists would spray all of the monkeys with cold water.  The scientists did this for several days until the monkeys in the cage stopped climbing the stairs.  The scientists then stopped spraying the monkeys with cold water.

Eventually, the scientists removed one monkey and replaced it with a new monkey.  Shortly after the new monkey was introduced into the cage, it began to climb the stairs to get the banana.  The rest of the monkeys immediately attacked the new monkey, preventing him from climbing the stairs to the banana.

One by one, the scientists replaced each of the five original monkeys with new monkeys.  Each time a new monkey was introduced into the cage, it would attempt to climb the stairs to get the banana.  Each time the monkey was attacked by the other monkeys as it attempted to climb the stairs.

After all five of the original monkeys had been replaced, the scientists replaced one of the new monkeys with another new monkey.  None of the monkeys in the cage had ever been sprayed with cold water when attempting to reach for the banana.  Nevertheless, when the new monkey attempted to climb the stairs, the rest of the monkeys attacked him.

Why?  Because that was the way it “had always been”.  None of the monkeys knew any different.

I’m more than a little concerned that the remnants of our government involved in putting together a new government are like the monkeys.  They just don’t know of a better way to govern than the way that drove us to the brink of extinction in the first place.

The fact that China has taken the lead in re-forming civilization frightens me even more.  They weren’t exactly a bastion of civil liberty before the crash.  I can only imagine how their surviving leadership views the new normal.

Is it possible that the sprouts of recovery seen creeping from the rubble of society were the seeds of tyranny sown before its collapse?

As if I didn’t already have a hundred problems.

Speaking of a hundred problems, have you heard the saying, “It’s what you don’t know that you don’t know that gets you”?

I have this feeling that there is a lot we don’t know that we don’t know about Hernandez’s organization.

One thing we do know is that there were multiple outposts.  We know that one of those outposts is just a few miles to our south.  We know, from Pete’s questioning, that Daniel informed that outpost of our existence and location before he was taken into town.  We know Daniel was around long enough to get a pretty good look at our defenses.

We don’t know how many outposts Hernandez had.  We don’t think Hernandez was killed in the attack on the armory – at least Pete’s detainee was pretty sure that Hernandez was not there, personally.

Hernandez seems like a guy that keeps his hands clean, letting others do the heavy lifting and dirty work.  So, it seems quite possible that he’s still around.

We don’t know how many members of Hernandez’s gang were not at the armory when we attacked it.  I’m sure there are other things we don’t know that we just weren’t smart enough to ask before we disposed of our source of information.

Time for a pow-wow between Pete’s family and my family.

On the good news front we were able to “liberate” a fair amount of vehicles, equipment and supplies from the motor pool at the armory.  Hernandez’s troops had obviously been loading supplies into the trucks in anticipation of their attack against us.

We mainly recovered weapons and ammunition, but also a few cases of MRE’s, a number of water coolers and a several ALICE packs filled with battle supplies.

We also ended up with three 6.5 liter turbo diesel HMMWV’s – two up-armored with turret-mounted M2E2 .50 caliber guns and one with an ambulance van – and two Deuce-and-a-halfs.  Both of the HMMWV’s with the .50’s were loaded up with twelve 100-round cans of ball ammo on belts.  In the back of one of the Deuces were another fifty cans of .50 caliber ball.  We also found ten cans of M962 SLAP armor-piercing ammo with tracer rounds interspersed.  A thousand rounds can go through a M2 pretty quickly but it was still a nice find.

In the same Deuce we found about 18,000 rounds of 5.56 ammo loaded in 30 round magazines and packed in “Tall .50” ammo cans.  Someone knew what they were doing when it came to packing ammo.  I store my own 5.56 exactly the same way.  Of course, before we hit the armory, I had nowhere near 18,000 rounds.

There were also twenty M4’s – the newer version with the three-round burst setting and ACOG sights.  We found a half-dozen Beretta M9’s in a locked box in the same Deuce.  Next to the Berettas were three night-vision cases … complete with NVESD Gen III+ devices and helmet mounts.


There were a number of odds and ends like helmets, web gear, body armor and the like but none in significant numbers.  Most likely it was just the gear for the vehicle’s drivers and co-drivers.  The rest of the gear was probably in the armory when we sent it skyward.

At first I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with all of the weaponry but then I realized that Hernandez is quite possibly still out there and several of his outposts definitely are still up and functional.

Finding a use for all my new toys will not be one of my hundred problems.

Ariela’s Choice

Ariela woke to a coldness that told her that the fire in the wood stove had gone out.  It wasn’t the first time that she’d slept straight through the night and let the fire go out in the last few weeks.  She breathed out heavily watching the fog from her breath disappear into the cold air of her little bedroom.

“I wonder how cold it got in here last night,” she mumbled to no one in particular.

Despite everything that was happening, Ariela had been sleeping well.  She was working hard during the day and often late into the evening.  She was frequently so tired by the time she reached her small house at night that she went directly to bed.  Helping her cousin, Enrique, was wearing on her.  Usually Ariela could manage four solid hours of sleep no matter what the conditions.  It was a skill she had learned as a Marine.  Sleep and eat when you can.  You don’t know when you’ll have a chance to do either again.

Enrique was becoming more and more of a problem.  Ariela believed that Enrique, in his heart-of-hearts, was entirely beyond redemption.  He was selfish, depraved and corrupt in every way imaginable.  Every day Ariela regretted her decision to help him manage the National Guard armory.

They had an agreement – Enrique and Ariela – that she would help him as long as he didn’t lie to her.  Ariela was sure that Enrique had lied to her.  She could see it in his eyes.  She couldn’t prove it, though.  A woman of her word, Ariela was hesitant to break her promise without absolute proof of Enrique’s deceit.

“Perhaps Uncle Fernando would advise me,” Ariela thought as the slipped out of her sleeping bag and slid her feet onto the cold, oak floor next to her bed.

Enrique was Fernando Hernandez’s oldest son, but Ariela knew that he was something of a disappointment to his father.  What Ariela couldn’t figure out is why Fernando had entrusted Enrique, who had never proven himself even remotely reliable, with the monumental task of managing all the armory’s resources.  The conundrum worried her more than a little.

Ariela had grown close to her uncle Fernando – technically Fernando was a third or fourth cousin, Ariela wasn’t exactly sure of the number – over the years.  He had taken her under his wing when her father left and Ariela always felt that she had been something of a favorite among her innumerable cousins.

Going to Fernando to discuss breaking her agreement with his oldest son might be pushing things, though, Ariela reasoned.  She would have to make this decision on her own … and live with the consequences.

As Ariela shuffled to her tiny living room to fire up the wood stove, she considered her choices.

Continuing to help Enrique was almost out of the question.  Just being around Enrique made Ariela’s skin crawl.  Not only was he a worthless human being but his physical advances were growing in intensity.

Breaking her agreement with Enrique would most likely have dire consequences, however.

“What if ….”  Another thought came to Ariela.  She couldn’t believe it had even entered her head.

“What if Enrique was to have an ‘accident’,” Ariela murmured quietly.

Ariela’s sharp, military mind began to turn over the possibility to consider it from all sides.

An accident was not all that unlikely.  Fernando currently had Enrique preparing to attack a group of survivors several miles to the east.  From what Ariela could ascertain, they had taken out one of the eastern outposts – the one that had not responded to radio contact for several days – and tortured the sons of Fernando’s sister, Marta, eventually killing the older boy and his mother.

Ariela knew Marta well – she was a venomous snake of a woman – but could not picture her two boys.  Supposedly, the younger boy, Daniel, had somehow escaped and made it back to town.

Ariela looked vacantly at her cold oatmeal.  Perhaps she could use Daniel somehow to orchestrate Enrique’s accident.

If Enrique fell victim to an accident, Ariela rationalized, the resources of the National Guard unit would naturally fall to her as second-in-command – unless Fernando suspected that she had a hand in Enrique’s death.

“Somehow, I must have no connection,” Ariela barely tasted the cold gruel as it crossed her lips.  “Somehow, I must be nowhere near Enrique when he is killed.”

Ariela pushed the problem of Enrique’s death into what she liked to refer to as her co-processor.  She had always been very good at multi-tasking.  Ariela would often visualize pushing a problem or a question into a special compartment of her brain and frequently wake up the following day with a solution.  She had been able to do this as long as she could remember.  More often than not, the solution had come to her during her morning shower in the old days.  Now that morning showers were pretty much a thing of the past, the solutions would often come as she walked to the armory.

“How fitting,” Ariela thought and smiled.  Ariela thoroughly enjoyed irony.  The walk to the armory was enjoyable despite the cold.

“Ariela, get over here!  We have to get ready.” Enrique shouted.

“Ready for what?” Ariela asked.

“We’re going to attack those bastards that killed Marta and Ricky tomorrow!” Enrique was literally writhing with excitement.

Ariela’s skin started to crawl again.

“What do you need me to do?” Ariela remained calm.

“Help us plan the attack,” Enrique said simply as if Ariela should have read his mind.

Enrique showed Ariela hand-drawn maps based on information from Daniel, Marta’s surviving son.  It appeared that they would be attacking a farm in the eastern half of the next county that sat low in a valley, obscured by trees.

The more Ariela studied the map the less she liked what she saw.

The dense trees indicated on the map made attack by vehicle nearly impossible.  They would either have to expose themselves for nearly a half mile if they approached from the east or run straight down a fatal funnel of a driveway if they approached from the west.  Vehicular approach from either the north or the south seemed impossible due to the density of the tree cover.

Daniel had noted that there were numerous defenses in place.  Tangle wire.  Booby traps.  Security cameras.  Military firearms.  Observation posts.  It was as if these people expected to be attacked.

Ariela didn’t like this one bit.  Normally, military advantage went to the high ground.  There were other factors, however, that could provide just as much – maybe more – advantage.  Whoever these people were, they seemed to have made the most of their surroundings.

“Enrique, these people are ready for an attack,” Ariela began.  “Look how the trees give them natural protection.  Look at all of the defenses that Daniel has noted.”

“They killed Marta,” Enrique was in a panic.

“OK, I get it,” Ariela kept her voice low and calm.  “We are duty-bound to avenge her death.  Do you want to die in the process?”

Enrique’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head as he waved his hands.  “What about all this … this National Guard stuff?”

“The ‘stuff’ is nice,” Ariela agreed, sarcasm in her voice, “but we need people who know how to use it … and understand military tactics.”

“That’s why you’re here!” Enrique screamed.

“I need some time to think,” Ariela was ready to snap Enrique’s fat neck.

“We don’t have any time,” Enrique continued on his tirade.

“If we rush in without a good plan, we’ll just end up dead,” Ariela stepped closer to Enrique.

Enrique stepped back reflexively.  He’d never seen a look on Ariela’s face like the one she had just given him.

“Enrique, here’s what I’m going to do,” Ariela began.  “I’m going to take these maps and notes back to my house and review them.  I’ll come back tomorrow with a plan.  In the mean time, I want you to get everyone together and start getting ready for … for a war.  That’s what this is going to be.”

Ariela quickly wrote down a list of tasks that filled an entire page.

“Make sure all of this is done by the time I get back here tomorrow,” Ariela ordered.  “I’ll be back around Noon.  We’ll review the plans with the crew and then mount up after dark.  Our best chance will be to hit them early in the morning while they’re still, hopefully, asleep.”

Ariela snatched up the map and notes and stalked out of the armory leaving Enrique with his mouth agape.  She had little hope that the well-prepared band of people they were about to attack could be caught unaware.

“That little bruja …” Enrique was furious.  “Who does she think she is ordering me around?”

Nevertheless, Enrique quickly assigned tasks to the 40 or so gang members hanging around the armory.  Ariela’s list was long and even with 40 people working all night Enrique wasn’t sure they could get everything done by Noon the following day.

Ariela took her time walking back to her little house.  The air was fresh and it helped her think.  Not only did she have to come up with a battle plan … she had to come up with one that would get Enrique killed and keep her alive.

Ariela had made her choice.  Enrique would die in battle.

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