Author Topic: Every Leaf In Springtime, Caravaneer 1 Fanfic  (Read 5713 times)

Firestorm

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Re: Every Leaf In Springtime, Caravaneer 1 Fanfic
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2015, 06:35:31 AM »
Chapter 15: Decapitation Strike

Bethany watched as the last of her squad's dead and wounded were loaded into the wagons. She had been told that they had won, but it was hard to believe with only half of the people she had come here with still standing.

The defenders had been forced back across the south side of Cimarron River, leaving her and a couple score of others trapped in the middle of town. They had been ready to surrender when Jack Sheppard's motorized reserves came thundering into Cimarron like some modern version of Jan Sobieski's Hussars at Vienna (Bethany generally didn't share her brothers' love of military history, but she always did like the Winged Hussars).

Jeeps and pickups swarmed over the Qubban forces, firing rockets and missiles into the sides and rears of enemy armour, spraying infantry with rifles and machineguns and even flak guns and flamethrowers. It should have been suicide, but the assault was so fierce that the heavier and more numerous Qubban forces were sent reeling back to the northern edge of town and Ponil Creek. It was a good showing for a bunch of self-interested mercenaries.

They moved against them the next day, only to find that they had already withdrawn, first to the Vermejo River, then to Raton, with some going all the way back to Colorado. Not a shot was fired during the 40 mile retreat, except into the bodies of any officers who tried to stop it. Though the victors were in only slightly better shape than the vanquished, it was clearly one bloody draw too many for Qubba.

***

James and Paul rode through the deserted streets of the newly liberated town of Aguilar. The Qubban forces had retreated to trenches along the railroad, leaving the town not all that much worse than it had been before their arrival.

"Think we're going to follow them?" asked Paul. He could tell that James didn't hear the question, so he tapped on his shoulder and asked again. James was a little reluctant to say just how deaf he really was; Paul got the impression that he had to read lips more often than not.

"I doubt it." James said. "Their infantry is in full rout but they still have good artillery. And there's almost nothing we can do about that armoured train, at least not until we can wreck the rails faster than they can rebuild them. Think we're going to get any air raids up here?"

"There was an old Cold War-era joke about the two Russian tank commanders? They parked their tanks in the ruins of Paris, got out, and one asked the other 'So, who won the air war?'"

James laughed, even though that did nothing to answer the question.

"Maybe we won't get bombed any time soon. New Mexican tanks probably make for better targets than Coloradan horses, and they have to deal with Stinger missiles either way. I guess it's for the best that Sheppard and his fracker friends never managed to bring much fuel up here."

A tumbleweed rolled across the gravel, catching against a mass of bullet-riddled cars that had been cleared from the road. They could hear a small engine and see a cloud of dust heading their way, but paid it little mind.

"Of all the allies we could have had, I can't believe we're getting help from the likes of Halliburton." said Paul. "And I reckon they still have claims to this area… wonder what they'll be doing with them…"

James had been worried about that too. As much as they had disliked the government in their previous lives, he had to wonder if the return of the frackers might lead his family to missing such organizations as the EPA.

"Probably best not to worry too much about it for now. One insurgency at a time, brother."

The cloud of dust had come to a stop near the riders, their horses glancing at the four-wheeler indifferently.

"Sergeants! You two are wanted at Battalion HQ." yelled the rider "Don't know what you did this time, but it sounded urgent."

***

General Snetteke missed the quaint little 125-year-old limestone firehouse. What Melissa's new base gained in security it had definitely lost in charm and elegance. It had been a coal mine before it had been a data centre for some financial firm, and now it was starting to feel like the Furherbunker.

Joseph Berg was there, so was his "elite guard"—who to Snetteke still looked… scummy. She had also gathered all her top lieutenants together: Roommate, Ghetto, and Granola she called them, all who weren't dead or split for some area that had never heard of her.

"So this is it?" asked Roommate. "Our own little war room from which we can plot Armageddon?"

"More or less. We'll launch in just a few hours, as soon as it's dark. Our primary target will be Stonewall, secondaries will include forward enemy strongholds and troop concentrations. Their command headquarters was meant to be mobile, so we expect that they'll be unprepared for a non-conventional attack. With a first strike, we've estimated that we'll take out 80% of their military leaders and 40% of their military."

And the civilians, he wondered? What good is it to be the queen of a poisoned realm if no one remains to live there?

"And you don't expect them to retaliate?"

"Why should they? The survivors would lose even if they did." Melissa grinned. "And besides, there's no retaliation for what we're about to unleash…"

That, of course, would be a reference to at least one nuclear warhead that had somehow fallen into her hands. She had spoken not a word about this asset until now, and still refused to reveal anything about the devise except for the fact that it had a maximum yield of 150 kilotons.

"…and what about you, General Snetteke, what do you think about the plans for tonight's show?"

I think you're a damned lunatic and I ought to put a bullet in your head, thought General Snetteke. But he wasn’t going to say that; he needed to get out of this bunker without a bullet in his own head so that he could try and convince his boss not to endorse this madness.

"I still wish you would describe the exact nature of you hitherto-unknown nuclear arsenal. I would also like to know where exactly the missile is pointed."

"So many exactitudes! It's pointed at Stonewall, or maybe Diep Gat or Verdammter Platz, or maybe all three. Does it matter? Wherever the mushroom pops up, I can assure you that no one still alive to see it will care to resist us any more."

It matters quite a bit if it pops up close enough to irradiate my troops you crazy bitch!

"Fair enough…" he stood motionless for several moments, to give the impression of carefully considering his next words.

"As much as I would love to stay for the fireworks, I must ask to be excused. My commanders need to know the risks they'll face from the inevitable fallout, physical and otherwise."

Melissa nodded his dismissal. She watched the general wheel around and hastily withdraw from the bunker, uncharacteristically failing to salute. At this point, she could have cared less.

"There's another matter that I need to discuss, and it's part of the reason why I gathered all of you here: I would like to announce that we've found our leak."

She unholstered her M1917 Colt Revolver and aimed it between the eyes of Roommate.

***

"They're going to gas us!?" exclaimed Paul.

"They want to. Hopefully, we can stop it." said Lieutenant Rodgers.

"What's the plan?" asked James. "Go after the launchers?"

"We'd never get them all, and they're prepared for a full-scale assault against them. What they're not prepared for is a small raid against the people commanding them; we found the Duchesses' secret lair, and we know that most of her advisors and top commanders are their with her. We're going to cut off the head and hope it'll end the whole thing before all Hell comes raining down on us."

A decapitation strike, thought Paul. A head on a stake no longer plots.

And what if we fail, or only partially succeed, or if the reports of no involvement from the central government are wrong? Do we make good on our threats to respond in kind against Trinidad and the Qubban Core? Neither of them could muster the courage to ask.

"Sounds like a plan, but where does our company come in?" asked James.

"When the guy planning the raid learned that both McLintock brothers were in the same company, he specifically called for us to be the tip of his spear. Somehow, you two got on someone's good side."

"'He?'" asked Paul. "I thought Mrs Campbell did all the cloak-and-dagger stuff."

"Nope, or at least she ain't leading this assault. That's going to be some guy from Texas: MacCoy, I think."

Both brothers nodded knowingly; of course that law dog would find his way back before it was all said and done.

"You know," said Paul after leaving the tent, "Edward Abbey had it right: there's one thing wrong with always fighting for freedom, and justice, and decency. And so forth"

"You almost always lose?" asked James.

"Yup."

“Well hell fire, Paul, what does that have to do with anything?"

They both laughed, and headed for the storage area to retrieve their gasmasks.

***

"All right, you got me."

Liz Haversham raised her palms meekly. She didn't seem defensive, or scared, or even overly surprised.

"Why!? You've been tipping them off since the whole thing started, if I didn't know better I'd think you masterminded the whole rebellion!"

"Oh, I don't deserve that much credit. In fact, we would have probably ended up in a situation not unlike this even if I had taken no action. Maybe I've saved a few lives though, atoned from some of the evil I've done… maybe if…"

"Answer the damn question!" she screamed. "Why did you do it?"

Roommate shrugged.

"Because you've lost your way, Melissa. Look around you: you're hiding at the bottom of a hole, you've bled the whole region white, and now you're planning to turn it into an uninhabitable wasteland. And for what? No one benefits from it except for some Man back in Denver, and what was it you always told us about trusting men in this era? He'll throw you to the dogs as soon as he's done with you. You've abandoned your convictions, such as they were, just because you're still pissed at having grown up in a crappy small town."

Melissa lowered the revolver and stood silent for moment. The edges of her mouth began to contort into something like a smile.

"Liz, oh Liz. This has nothing to do with my upbringing and it has nothing to do with convictions. I've always been a power-hungry psychopath and I've never denied it—at least not to myself. I left this area because I could never have power here, and I came back when it became the perfect place to take power. That's all.

"As for the Man in Denver… well, we'll see who's still standing when it's all said and done. He has his own little bunker not unlike this one—a little less well-kept of a secret. When we hit the rebels, they are going to retaliate, and a direct hit from one of their nukes should take care of all our Raff problems."

"But they… wait… oh my God."

At this point, Melissa was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"And of course I'm afraid you still have to die, Liz… but not in my bunker; we just cleaned it."

There was a roll of dull thuds a couple hundred feet above them, and then a rumble that shook the entire room. Everyone looked up warily at the ceiling, and then the alarms started blaring. Melissa looked at Roommate with a renewed and burning fury.

"An attack? Here? HOW!? I MADE SURE THAT YOU COULDN'T KNOW ABOUT THIS PLA…"

She felt something pressed against her back. She turned around to see a Browning Hi-Power held in Ghetto's good hand.

"Et tu, Collette?" asked Melissa.

"Et tu, Collette?" asked Roommate.

"'Fraid so. It's a crazy, crazy world we're in ain't it, sisters?"

There were more explosions. The lights flickered, and then went out. In the moments before emergency lighting kicked on, Melissa dove for where her gun had fallen and grabbed it. Others must have had the same idea; the room came alight in confused muzzle flashes.

***

The general's speeding staff car was over a mile away when he heard the first explosion. His driver slammed on the brakes and pulled off onto the side of the road, grabbing his submachine gun as he looked back in the direction of the mineshaft.

"Might as well keep going." said Snetteke, "There's nothing more we can do here."

***

Paul reckoned that his targets was some three furlongs away and twelve fathoms (72 feet, 22 meters) beneath the earth, as judged by the (notoriously unreliable) old maps they had. The dark and narrow corridor they were moving down wasn't quite as dark or narrow as the escape tunnel out of his family's fallout shelter, but it was still enough to bring out his latent claustrophobia. He thought that maybe humming a tune to himself would help calm his nerves, but unfortunately he could only remember lyrics from old Merle Travis songs:

"The midnight, the morning, or the middle of day,
Is the same to the miner who labors away.
Where the demons of death often come by surprise,
One fall of the slate and you're buried alive."

He was frankly surprised that such a place existed. He had heard of bunkers, mines, missile silos, and the like being refurbished in this manner, but had always thought that Southern Colorado's coal was too gassy, and the surrounding soil too unstable, for it to work here. The financial firm had not used all of the mine. Some of the walled-off tunnels ran directly underneath the basements of some very pricey suburban houses, making him wonder if the real estate agents had mentioned the subsidence risk to potential buyers.

The surface-side complex above them was being encircled by a screen of Cristo cavalry intended to feint the defenders while preventing reinforcement or escape. Having secretly accessed the mine without causing a cave-in, the raiders were now literally walking through the walls to hit the defenders where they least expected it.

Two hundred men emerged into a hallway that was big enough to drive two dump trucks through, with platoons and squads fanning out to clear the smaller rooms and passageways. They were mostly armed with a mix of shotguns and carbines for the closed-in fighting they were expected to encounter, as well as a large number of flash bang and teargas grenades generously provided by the Texan deputies. They carried few high-explosives, for obvious reasons, and had decided to forgo the use of flame weapons for fear of suffocating themselves, or turning Trinidad into another Centralia.

A surprisingly-large amount of the mine was dedicated to offices and administrative workspace, and the previous owners had done a lot to make these parts feel less miney. Grey drop ceilings, beige drywall, and white linoleum floors that became annoyingly slippery when soaked in blood. It had not actually been dug with post-mining usage in mind, so the layout was still very confusing. There was little cover to speak of, and few hiding places meant that any gunfight didn't take long to judge the quick and the dead.

***

Following the exploding flashbang through yet another office, James' point man fired his Remington 870 at anything that even looked like it might move. James added to the fire with his FN P90 (freakish little gun with even more freakish—and rare— ammo, but seemingly effective in tight spaces), its laser dot cutting a pale red beam through the chemical haze. Fighting amongst the Dilbetscape of dreary cubicles, potted plants, and over-engineered chairs, he almost missed the "dark as a dungeon" motif.

He saw a track of holes punching through the far wall and immediately hit the deck; someone in an adjacent room was firing on them with what he guessed was a belt-fed machinegun. He saw the blind burst cut down two of his men, and there wasn't much he could do except shoot back and hope his own blind burst would deal with the gunner.

Things were not going entirely according to plan. Enemy resistance was still disorganized and scattered, but it thickened as they moved deeper into the labyrinth. The defenders seemed to outnumber them, and their close-quarters and low-visibility fighting skills were better than had been expected. Worst of all, the tear gas canisters were not working very well; most of them were past their expiration dates, and seemed to be releasing degraded irritants or not dispersing them properly. He expected that they would win anyway, but he didn't know what the cost would be.

***
 
Paul's squad rounded a corner and ran into the rear of a large enemy force. They had at least one M60 machinegun team and were laying down withering fire on an friendly unit. Their position would make it difficult to fire on them without risking friendly fire.

"BAYONETS, CRISTOS! GIVE 'EM THE BAYONET!"

He let out a scream and charged the two "Pig" gunners with his blade-affixed Remington 11. One of them shrieked in terror and crawled under a desk, the other—unable to swivel the big gun around to face the new threat— jumped up with a KATANA in hand and raised it high for a diagonal strike. Paul went low, digging his M7 bayonet into the left kidney of the gunner/swordsman, then slashing his left knee and skewering his right lung. The rest of his squad followed his lead in swarming the enemy, those without bayonets making use of combat knifes, machetes. and even a few swords of their own.

"Much obliged." said the leader of the friendly unit.

"No problem, Deputy MacCoy. So, what's the plan now?"

"Head north, whichever way that is. I want your men find and hold the main shafts and hold them. We're going after the known escape tunnels, and if we haven't been delayed too long your brother and the others can take care of whatever's left down here."

***

James finished beating the last recalcitrant Raffian over the head with his P90. Out of ammunition, he traded the personal defence weapon for his wounded comrade's Winchester 1300 and hoped he didn't run into anyone packing military-grade heavy body armour.

His remaining troops cautiously moved from light to shadow to light again, sweeping across row after row of computer servers that once held the meticulous records of Mr. and Mrs. America's current level of debt slavery. There were a few shots here and there, and more than a few hostiles throwing their hands up to surrender, but thankfully no more machinegun ambushes.

He left the office space for another truck-route-sized corridor. He could tell at this point that gunfire in the mine was still fairly constant, but not nearly as intense as it had been a few seconds ago. Or at least it seemed like seconds to him; perhaps the battle had been going on for much longer.

There was a bend in the hallway, and going around it brought him face to face with a lot of very angry-looking bad guys.

***

Melissa picked herself up off the floor and began examining the bodies. She found Joseph Berg lying on his back and breathing heavily. Blood was dripping down his side.

"JOE! Get up Joe! We've got to get to the escape tunnel."

"Leave, get out. Oh God, what does it even matter? It's over!"

"It ain't over till it's over. SOMEBODY HELP ME!"

She and one of the surviving bodyguards helped him push up off the floor, and then got him on his knees. She knew that if he would get a little higher that she could probably get him moving. She was surprised at herself that she really and truly cared about getting him out alive.

"We can get out of here, we can start over! We'll go to Kansas or Nebraska, get in touch with your brother Olaf. C'mon, you told me about what he was doing with the salt mines out there, that armadillo's worth its weight in gold nowadays. GET UP!"

"I never want to see another mine again." he slurred. Melissa chuckled and finally got him on his feet. Someone behind them began shooting, Melissa fired her revolver over her shoulder. Maybe they wouldn't get out of this hole in the ground, but she was determined to go down shooting.

There was a bend in the hallway, and going around it brought her face to face with a lot of very angry-looking bad guys.

***

Finally feeling safe enough to use his headlamp, Deputy MacCoy carefully stepped around the mass of dead and wounded combatants. He made his way to a big man sitting on the floor with a vacant look on his face, running his fingers through the red hair of what might have once been a very pretty woman. He kicked the empty .45 revolver away from them and stood warily over the infamous outlaw.

"Hands where I can see them, Berg. It's all over."

"…yeah." said Joseph Berg. "Yeah, I guess so."

***

"So that's it?" asked Oswald Raff over the phone.

"As far as I can tell." replied General Snetteke. "Melissa's dead, all of her lieutenants are dead or scattered, her troops are disappearing, and it would be best if we start withdrawing ours before they melt into the landscape too…"

"And of course you ensured that none of her weapons of mass destruction fell into rebel hands."

"Personally. The crews and their warheads are on their way north as we speak. Think of it as a consolation prize."

There was a brief silence on the line.

"That implies that we lost, General. I'd rather find a way to think of it as the outcome that we desired to begin with."

"Really? Do you think that can be done at this point?"

Snetteke knew that the difficulty of politics, much like war, consisted in large part of turning the devious into the direct and misfortune into gain, but the manner in which it was done seemed like so much sorcery to him, and it wasn't something he was all that eager to understand. There was a longer silence on the line this time, and he started to realize that his future would depend in large part on what was said next.

"General, there is one truly good thing that came out of all this."

"Oh? What's that?"

"I learned what a cattle guard is. Before having to deal with Melissa's Marlboro Men, I thought the grazing lands literally had guards standing at all the entrances watching the cattle."

The general used all his self-control to keep from laughing.

"Oh? So you never heard the old hoax about President Clinton trying to fire the cattle guards?"

"No."

***

The old CJ-5 Jeep made a good recoilless rifle carrier, but it needed work on it's engine. It consumed fuel at an abominable rate, and its emphysemic roar echoed across the war-torn desert. It rolled alone through a landscape filled with dead tanks and cars and other machines, and even a few men. The gravediggers had been slow to reach this area; the bodies were bloating under the sun and the buzzards and coyotes had already started to do their part in nature's cleanup.

"I'm glad my son John is too young to see all of this" yelled Jack Sheppard above the engine.

"How old is he?" asked Bethany.

"Not much younger than you, actually. I hope he grows up to have a very, very boring life. I guess the war is about over now. Things went pretty well for us."

Bethany remembered something her brother used to say: 'Praise not the day until evening has come, a woman until she is burnt, a sword until it is tried, a maiden until she is married, ice until it has been crossed, beer until it has been drunk.'

"So, what are you going to do after this?" she asked.

"Keep doing what I've been doing I guess." said Jack. "I've got a pretty good job patrolling the desert, probably one of the last steady jobs in the world. Might even make it a family tradition if I don't get any better ideas. What about you?"

"Learn how to grow almonds."

Jack Sheppard shrugged. As good a plan as any. He slowed the jeep to get around a M1127 Stryker  Reconnaissance Vehicle that was blocking the road.

"You're right about one thing, corporal; at a distance, slat armour really does look like a bunch of cattle guards that some nutcase bolted to the sides of his tank. I have to wonder if using cattle guards would actually…"

"CONTACT, TWO O'CLOCK! STOP THE CAR!"

Bethany was already on the M40, slewing it in the direction of an M1128 Mobile Gun System (another Stryker variant) on a hill overlooking the road. The armoured car set crippled in the sand, fire-blackened with burned-away tires and daylight shining through the holes in the side. There was no reason to pay any attention to it, except that the turret seemed to still be alive, and it's 105mm gun was rapidly swivelling towards them.

She now wished that her unit had done more with the 60-year-old system than a daylong familiarization course. No time to use the spotting rifle; she instead laid the sights on the enemy vehicle and prayed for the best as she pulled the trigger. She wasn't even sure how to reload the contraption if she missed, not that it would matter.

The "recoilless" rifle bucked the little jeep and kicked up a cloud of dust as it fired, knocking the wind out of both occupants. The main gun belched flame and smoke as it fired. Bethany screamed in terror as the two 105mm rounds flew through the air, passing within a few yards of each other.

Firestorm

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Re: Every Leaf In Springtime, Caravaneer 1 Fanfic
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2015, 06:36:44 AM »
Epilogue

The winter hadn't been too bad. The spring might be. It hadn't snowed much, and that was now a problem as the lack of snowmelt meant a lack of drinking water for the cattle. James McLintock, his dad and some of the hired men were herding about a hundred Charolais onto some property they had leased from their relatives, and also some decent grazing land that, from what they could tell, had been abandoned. They didn't particularly like doing this, but Paul had always predicted that it would start happening. The notion of personal land ownership didn't really exist in pastoral societies; you moved your herd to whatever grass you could find and you owned as much of it as you could defend.

So far, the people in the canyons had done pretty well at defending themselves from outsiders.

Melissa was gone. She had left quite a mystery in her wake; that wasn't the name she'd been born with, his shooting her in the face with a shotgun had made it very hard to identify the body, and no one who had known her was being all that forthcoming. Perhaps they would never know who the Duchess of Trinidad really was. The discovery of her nuclear devise, and where it had been pointed, came as a surprise for everyone, and no doubt helped to sober the peace talks.

Joseph Berg was gone. Deputy MacCoy had taken him and those regulators who had been captured back to Texas, where those who mugged on Tuesday hanged on Wednesday. He didn't know what became of Joseph Berg, but the Deputy had been forgiven for his Colorado foray, and apparently had a good shot at being his county's next sheriff. Bandits were still a problem in the area, a very serious one, but it would be a very long time before they and the state ever again cooperated so openly.

Oswald Raff was gone, at least in every way that mattered, at least for now. They could have brought the power grid back if there was a way to harness all the spin coming from his press people. Apparently, the entire war had been the brainchild of a few evil advisors who attacked the misguided-but-ultimately-innocent people of the Sangre de Cristos, forcing a war that he never wanted and had done his best to stop. He'd even found some patsies to gibbet for these outrages. The Qubbans were clearly better at politics than war; he had done a decent job of sweet-talking the Texans and New Mexicans alike, and James wondered if he might eventually get through verbiage what he could never take at bayonet-point.

General Snetteke, oddly, was not gone. He still worked as Raff's top advisor and was often enlisted as an envoy to the south, where old disagreements were forgotten and new friendships made. Snetteke said that he planned on retiring in the area.

The Desert Patrol was gone, or at least they only ventured above Raton Pass or the town of Costila when in pursuit of robbers. Their employers had little interest in extracting fuel from the lawless, isolated canyons, so the only visitors from points south were the caravans carrying

Even the Sangre de Cristo Republic was, as far as they could tell, gone. James had thought that Harriet Campbell or Robert Rogers would have made good presidents, but Harriet only wanted her old mail route and Rogers had taken up sheep ranching. He wasn't sure if they had (or needed) a president. They took care of themselves and they took care of each other in their happy little anarchy, and there was no need for another Duchess of Trinidad to tell them how to do that.

And a lot of good men and women were gone. James wasn't sure how many had been lost, but one estimate had it at 6,000 dead on their side. And in the time since the crash? He had heard someone say that America's surviving population was somewhere around one-hundred million, and the population of Earth was down to somewhere around two billion. There was no possible way to confirm any of that, but Southern Colorado had definitely been comparatively lucky.

"You should have seen the wedding." said James aloud, startling his horse. "It didn't trail the cease-fire by more than a week. Dad rolled Bethany down the aisle in her wheelchair; she said she was going to walk again and every day she takes another step towards that goal. She and Tim are managing an almond grove now, and hope to get one of their own some day. They are the proud owners of a very pretty little flock of turkey poults which they plan to raise alongside their babies.

"I know, I know. Eighteen years old does seem awful young to get hitched, but I guess that's the world we live in now. By the standards of our day, even Hector and Alexia are getting close to marriageable age…

…Alexia's still blind you know. Eyesight's probably gone for good, just like my hearing. I guess, all in all, things didn't really change that much in these last few months: one sister's still missing, one's still crippled, one's still blind, I'm still deaf and you Paul, well, you're still dead."

"Paul McLintock
Aged 24 years, 10 months

'Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.'
-Martin Luther"

James took the bandana from around his mouth and wiped his eyes, cursing the cloud of dust as it rolled in. He still couldn't believe how they had been through so much only for his brother to die on patrol from a lightning strike, several days after the end of the war.

He had always liked that quote, and it seemed very fitting that it adorned his headstone (another quote by Martin Luther now adorned the threshold of the renovated McLintock homeplace: "Even if I knew that tomorrow would be the judgement day, I would still plant my apple tree.")

The cedars on top of the nondescript hill on the back of their cousin's ranch were doing fine, but the Live Oaks looked very sick and he wondered if they could survive in the changing climate. The wrought-iron fence was going to need repairing soon if they didn't want cows or other critters rooting around the bones of their ancestors. None of that took away from the beauty of the location. There were, he felt, worse places to wait on the Resurrection.

The wind had now gathered to a steady blast, and James knew that there were a hundred separate chores calling for his attention. He rotated his horse out of the graveyard, and rode alongside a nearby group of grazing white cows. One of the older ones, the dam of several very good oxen and well-liked by James personally, looked up at him curiously.

"Can you keep an eye on them for me, girl?" he asked.

"Moo…"
« Last Edit: August 28, 2015, 06:44:55 AM by Firestorm »