Sunday, January 20, 2019

Odds and Ends Jan '19

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been slowed first by my recurring hand/tendon thing, and now a back issue, so not a lot going on.  Besides squeezing in a little casting (6mm African buildings and whatnot), the only thing that I've accomplished is repainting the helmets on my 6mm Mugabian infantry the correct color of green (I had grabbed the wrong bottle, when finishing them the first time).

I received a selection of French helicopters from H&R a few days back, Super Frelons, Pumas, and Alouettes.  All very nicely detailed and cleanly cast.

Otherwise, the storm of the century only dropped 4 inches of the white stuff and a lot of rain on us, but the wind and drifting snow will keep me from picking up supplies today.  So I'm going to watch football for a change, instead of going down the basement.  Go Rams!  Yes, I am Ohio's only remaining Ram's fan (They moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles in 1946).

As soon as I can, I will finish painting and casting the African buildings, get the castings on my seller site, and in the mean time work ahead on some back story and scenarios for the post-apocalypse.

Stay warm out there.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Charlie's Journal - Long range recon: Days 9-12

Days 9-12

We started out the next morning, with a half charge, and with a broken wheel, though at least it rolled.  Much slower goin' than before; took us four days to cover the same ground as in two days at the start.

When we was in range, Panky started reporting back.  Radio was in and out, not sure why.  We took the same route home, but avoided the radland, and stayed further away from the known settlements.  We didn't want no more trouble with the Goat limpin' along.

After a couple of days, we was startin’ to worry, ‘cause the front wheel on the goat was making some noise when we were movin’.  Sam suggested taking it apart, but warned that we might not get it back together again.  Panky decided to just run it as long as we could, and deal with it, when it stopped rollin’ or fell off or whatever.  Other than that we moved along, just went kinda slow.

Spent half of each day recharging, and found places to hide the goat along the way, especially at night, we did short watches at night, Panky thought we'd be more alert.  I'm not so sure; kind of messed up my sleep.  Panky also ran the drone out in front of us as a scout, pretty boring watching its feed,  made her more of a bear to deal with than usual.  I traded off with Panky on the drone watch  a couple of times, but mostly she wanted to do it herself.

Sam's leg was starting to heal up.  Looked okay, but was going to leave a big scar.  Said she'd just add it to her collection.  She showed me a couple of the greenies she had drawn in her journal.  Gave me chills.  

Most of the trip back, Panky was pretty quiet, worried-like.  But on the third night, Panky seemed to lighten up a bit, so I asked her if we had achieved our goal.  You know, found what we were supposed to find.  There was a long pause, but finally she said yeah we did.  

It turns out that we had two objectives in mind for the mission.  The first was see if we would find greenies; see if they was real.  And as bad the rumors said.  So yes, and yes.  The second was to find how far east the boundary of Texian land was.  We found the United States of Colorado first, which she said was just as good.

I told her I noticed the gun that the guy had back at that blockhouse, a las-rifle.  Same type as a couple of the guys from the gang we ran in to just after we started the mission.  Told her I thought maybe they had scouts further to the west, closer to home.  She said maybe, but maybe the gang just took 'em from USoCs that they killed.  Could be, but odd weapon to carry, when you got no recharge for it in the wastes.  Them things don't just fire forever.

After we got back, we was debriefed at some length, giving every detail that we could remember, 'specially about the greenies and the blockhouse.  It was not a real pleasant experience, what with the major trying to rip memories out of our head, that we didn't know we had, and sometimes didn't.  Then we were told not to talk about the greenies or the USoC.  Its kinda funny though, as I told my story to the major, I got the feeling that he already knew about the USoC.

Afterward, we all went and got some chow, talked a little about our trip, and then went to do our own thing.  I found my bunk and got some sleep, happy to be home again.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Charlies Journal - Long Range recon: Days 7 & 8

Day 7

The Goat made better time on the return trip, helped that we knew where we was goin'.  Panky really pushed things along, 'cause she wanted to get home and report everything as soon as possible.

We passed some people on the road, they was on foot.  They just stared at us as we went by, we stared back at them.  Well, I smiled at them, but that didn't matter none.

We got nearly back to the river on the first day, before stopping for the evening.  Was able to catch a little of a charge before sun went down.  Ate some bad food, stared at the stars.  Couldn't sleep much.  I kept thinking about that blockhouse.  Who were they?  What was life like where they come from?  Just couldn't stop wonderin'.

Day 8

We charged up a little bit more in the morning, then got on our way.  Panky pushed us along, retracing our path to make the best speed.  It wasn't long before we started to see plants and stuff as we approached that stream again.

A view of the river valley

The stream came up quickly, we entered the valley just a little north of where we had passed through before.  Almost as soon as we could see the stream, we started taking fire.

The scene from the turret of the Goat

Panky shouted out, "GREENIES", over the comm.  Scared me and didn't know what she was talking about.  I don't think she ever saw one before; I know I hadn't.  Didn't think they were real.  Weird thing was, they barely showed up in the viewer against the background.

A birds-eye view of the  situation, the Goat is entering from the left.

Greenies approach from the goat's right front.

As soon as rounds started to bounce off the armor, Panky ordered Sam to try to go south around them, I slewed the turret to the right and engaged, while Panky checked out where we was headed.  I dropped two of them, and hit another, but it still kept coming despite  having a big freakin' hole in the middle of its chest.

Panky saw this and kinda started to freak, yelled at me to hit them better, whatever that meant.  Kill them, I guess.  As Sam went south, more greenies came into view, some of them were little; weird lookin' things.  We started taking a ton of hits, but no damage; I fired more bursts, killing one, wounding a couple that kept on attacking.

The Goat as it starts to turn south.

As we headed south, Panky took over and aimed at this big giant greenie in a giant armored suit, carrying a huge gun and a big claw.  It must have already fired at us, cause its gun showed up hot in the viewer, and was smokin'.  About this time, we took a hit to the solar array, I fired at the "biggie", but killed another greenie that ran in front of it.  Wounded another too.  The Biggie fire at us, but musta missed, cause I didn't hear nothin' hit us.  Panky was tellin' me to hit the dang thing, but she didn't say "dang".
In the bushes, the big armored greenie, referred to as "Biggie".

Sam turned west now toward the stream, I hit the biggie with at least two rounds, it smoked a little, but kept coming, missing us again, as my hits jerked the thing as it fired.  Up 'till now, I always felt safe in the Goat, but after that thing shrugged off our autocannon, I kinda started to get a little concerned.

Biggie and the Goat exchange shots.

The Goat trails smoke as it crosses the stream.

I fired at Biggie again, but missed as Sam bounded us into the stream.  Biggie fired again, and the Goat lurched a little.  There was this weird sound from down front by Sam, and she said that a wheel got effed up.  I fired at almost the same time, hit the Biggie, and it fell to the ground, and started to crawl towards us.

Biggie and the Goat both trail smoke from their hits.

As we raced away from the stream, I continued to fire at the greenies, hitting at least five of them, though only one of 'em fell dead.  I cannot believe how tough those things were.  They just didn't die.  Not like people anyway.  As we headed away, we took a bunch more hits, a couple doing some damage.  Somehow, our batteries took a hit, which is a problem, but we made it out of there trailing a little smoke.

Biggie knocked down, the wounded Goat flees the battlefield.

We limped away, found a secluded spot in the rocks, and Panky and Sam got out and checked out the damage to the Goat, while I kept watch.  Turns out we lost the motor on the right front wheel, lost about a quarter of our recharge ability from the panel getting hit, and lost about half the battery.  Gonna be a much slower ride home from here on out.

Oh yeah, and the weird sound from up front, that was a round from the biggie's gun coming through the armor of Sam's compartment, and wounding her leg.  She didn't even say anything, even after she got out and we saw her bloody pant leg.  Said, "Just a scratch", wanted to get right to work on the Goat.  Panky put ten stitches in the scratch to seal it up.

We spent the rest of the day repairing and recharging.  I was hyped up for awhile, then all of a sudden, was more tired than I ever been.  It was tough staying awake during my watch.  Never been like that before.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Long Range Recon: Contact - Day 6

"Do you see it?"

"Diaz...", Rogers looked up from imager, "...I should be sleeping right now."  Diaz looked flustered, "But do you see it?" Humorless and disinterested, Rogers agreed that he saw it. "So somebody has a fire going, five miles away in the hills."

D: "So you see it."
R: "Yes."
D: "Should we report it?
R: "You just did."
D: "To command?"
R:"I'm going back to sleep."
D: "But..."
R: "Just watch, report if something actually happens."
D: "But..."
R:"I'm sleeping."

Rogers went back to his bunk; Diaz watched the horizon, checking time and time again for the next three hours before daylight.

The view from the blockhouse.

After daylight, Diaz thought he saw a flicker of movement a couple of times, but at this distance, it was really hard to tell.  When Rogers got up, Diaz showed him the video, pointed out the events, and Rogers admitted that it might be something.

Possible contact on the top of the ridge, center of view above.

Diaz was relieved, and Rogers took over the watch with Diaz hovering over his shoulder.  Rogers panned the horizon a couple of times, before Diaz suggested that some sort of vehicle might be parked near a crest in the distance.  Rogers played with the camera settings, adjusting mode and contrast and whatnot.  Partly obscured by rock, and behind a bush, there was a tire and what appeared to be some sort of a vehicle just visible in the morning sun.  Rogers had to admit, Diaz was right; kid had a good eye.

Object viewed behind the rock and bush, as well as a human contact.

Diaz excitely asked, "What do we do?"
R: "Wait for Hightower to get out of the can."
D: "Then what?"
R: "Follow his orders, and will you quit hanging over my shoulder?"
D: "Sorry."

When Hightower returned, they showed him the video.  He compared it to the video of the day before, and concluded that they had identified a contact.  They then set the computer to do a high res scan, and the computer identified a brief human contact at one point, near the vehicle.

About an hour later, Rogers and Hightower watched the squat armored truck come down the old road out of the ridge-line.  Rogers took pleasure in abruptly waking Diaz, who banged his head on the bunk above his own, while Hightower sent a message to command. Everyone went to duty stations.

An armored truck descends from the ridge.

They watched as the truck approached the blockhouse.  It was quite uneventful, but life in the blockhouse is boring, and everyone watched like if was the first moon landing.  The truck stopped a good distance out, and a single person climbed out of the top of it and began to approach on foot.

An occupant from the truck approaches the blockhouse.

She appeared to be a soldier, maybe, not very disciplined, but yeah, probably a soldier.  She stopped on the road about at the limits of rifle range, fiddled with something from a pocket, and sat down in the road.

Hightower decided to send Simpson out to talk to her, with Rogers visibly armed and covering Simpson from a short distance back.  Simpson carried only her holstered pistol for defense.

Panky got up as the woman from the bunker approached, "Hello, I'm sergeant Pankovic from the New Mexico Confederation.  To whom am I speaking?"

Lt. Simpson greets the stranger.

Simpson paused a moment, then offered, "I'm  Lieutenant Simpson, how can I help you?"

"Lt Simpson of where? And what is this place?"

"I'm a soldier of the United States Army, and this is blockhouse 7."

Panky cracked a momentary smile at the thought of yet another group calling themselves, the United States, and asked, "What is your mission?"

"To serve and protect the Constitution and citizens of the United States."  Simpson continued, asking why Panky was here, and for details about the Confederation.  Panky eventually asked what the United states actually consisted of, and was told that it was Colorado, some surrounding states and territory, and a some portion of land on the East Coast, whatever that meant.

Eventually Simpson instructed Panky to come to the bunker to continue the discussion, but Panky wasn't too appreciative of Simpson's tone, and replied, " Actually, I'm good talkin' right here."

"We'd really prefer to talk in the comfort of the blockhouse, rather than out here in the sun and dust." Simpson was clearly irritated.

Panky shared, "Yeah, I imagine so," and started to back-peddle towards the Goat.  She was expecting to find villages of people struggling to get by, scavengers, and the occasional band of knaves and hooligans.  She even thought that they might get to shoot a couple of the mythical "Greenies", but she wasn't expecting to find a military fortification representing a nation that hadn't truly existed during her lifetime.  As they used to say, this was above her pay grade.

The stranger returns to her truck, much to Lt. Simpson's dismay.

Trying to buy time and distance, she started to head back to the Goat, and said, "I need to report back to my superiors."  Panky turned her back on Lt Simpson, and began to walk back to the Goat.  Simpson yelled to Panky, trying to persuade Panky to talk further, but Panky just smiled to herself, and thought, "No, you lose this round.  You could shoot me in the back, but then you'd still lose. Need to get back home. Buzz the drone around first, then get home and tell everyone about our new neighbors."

Lt. Simpson returns as the truck heads back to the west.

Back in the  bunker, Hightower watched as the encounter took place.  He could hear most of the exchange over Simpson's coms unit.  He was almost as surprised at the existence of the Confederation as he was about the Goat.  He hoped for a lengthier exchange, and that they would be able to gather more information, but recognized that that wasn't going to happen.

Hightower also made note of the friction that seemed to exist between the two women.  He didn't really understand it, but noted it, wondering if sending Simpson out there had been a mistake.  She could come off as pushy at times, well, most of the time.

The crew in the blockhouse watched as Panky got back into the Goat, and watched it back away from them.  In time the Goat disappeared back into the hills towards where New Mexico had once been.

Diaz excitedly began to barrage Rogers with questions, as Hightower, figuring that the day's excitement was over, exited the deck.  Behind him, an exasperated Rogers plead with Diaz to just shut up.

When Panky returned to the Goat, she told Sam to start backing away from the blockhouse.  Sam did as she was told, but asked, " Just how far do you want me to back up, I got no eyes back there, boss."  So, Charlie got to be Sam's eyes for a little bit, and after a short distance, Panky had Sam turn the Goat around, keeping the turret facing the blockhouse the whole time.  The goat proceeded up into the hills, and began to retrace the path home.

Though Charlie heard most of the exchange between Panky and the stranger, as soon as the Goat was moving, he asked Panky what happened?  All she said was, "We made contact."

Monday, January 7, 2019

Charlies Journal - Long Range recon: Days 5 and 6

Day 5

Turns out, dog is good eatin'.  On full bellies, we headed out, crossing over a lot more hills. kind of slow goin' with Panky runnin' the drone constantly, searching around and watchin' out for the next ambush.  We kept stopping for the drone, so the batteries stayed pretty much charged throughout the day.

It was late in the day, when we finally stopped near a high peak on a cliffs, not too far from the road though.  Just lookin' around, I could see that the hills stopped pretty suddenly, and looked like a big valley out ahead.

Not sure why Panky pushed us so late into the day, but we got camp set up for the night.  Panky did a bunch more surveying, and seemed a little jumpy.  Real uptight again.  I talked to Sam about it a little, and she thinks that Panky is just tryin' to keep track of too much, and probably feels a little strung out about how we got surprised by the gang and dogs.

We 're both a little surprised that we haven't run into more people or settlements out here.  Most of what we've seen, just seems to always be from the before, always abandoned.  Nothin' that anyone would want to live in.  And a lot of the way has been dustier and rockier than home.  Can't grow much food out here.

I saw Sam's journal tonight.  Turns out she ain't writing, she's drawin' pictures of what we see.  Really good ones too.

We had dog again, for dinner.  I like dog.

Day 6

We were packing up camp, when Panky came running over, telling us to be quiet and hurry up.  Said she saw somethin', some kind of odd building down in the next valley, not like anything she'd seen before.

We got packed up and moved to a better position, forward and a little higher, with a better vantage point, looking into the valley.  Panky was real specific in directing Sam, so as to hide the Goat from whatever she had seen.  Was real odd.

Panky had settled down from her earlier excitement, and had Sam park the Goat behind some rocks and bushes.  She got out of the Goat, told me to get a portable viewer and come along.  We moved among the rocks and found a good scouting position.

Sure enough, there it was, just like she said, this three or four story concrete lookin' sorta pyramid kinda building.  Just plain weird.  Looked like some kind of tiny fortress, out in the middle of nowhere.  We could see a couple of people outside at times, and some other clutter around it, but just that one building, out there by itself.

After watching for awhile, Panky was satisfied that we learned all we could learn from here, so she started back to the goat. I asked her what we were gonna do, and she just kept walkin' away from me and said, "Time to make contact."

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Charlies Journal - Long Range Recon Day 4

Day 4

Countryside started gettin' bumpy.  Hilly, rocky areas, and cliffs and whatnot.  We found an old road, and stuck more or less to that for most of the day.  We had to clear some rocks and a road block out of the way at one point.  Looked like someone was tryin' to block the way pretty serious at one point, but we never found no people.

Even with the road, it was slow goin' with all of the rocks and cliffs and stuff.  Panky used the drone to scout ahead for us.  She was worried about an ambush; so was me and Sam.  Nothin' happened though, other than draining down the batteries.

Charlie and Sam checking the batteries on the goat.

Some hungry pups see a free lunch.

We didn't make so much headway as on the the days before, and had to stop to recharge.  During the evening, while makin' some chow, a pack of dogs attacked us.  They came in on us pretty quick, and even though Panky, who was on watch, saw them, she got off a bad shot and missed.

Panky out of position to see the dogs until too late.

The dogs charge Charlie and Sam.

The first dog came runnin' in at me and jumped and got ahold of my arm, mostly bit sleeve.  Sam shot the second dog, but Panky couldn't get a shot from where she was at on the rocks. Us and the dogs were too close, all mixed up in the fray.

Panky misses a shot at the last dog.

I got ahold of the first dog's neck and was sort of able to hold it off; while Sam came around with her knife and wounded it, the second dog jumped on me too, bit me on the shoulder, but Sam slashed it and both of them ran off.

Sam shot the second dog, and then stabbed the first one that attacked Charlie.

It all happened real fast, and then it was done. Panky seemed more upset that we got jumped by a pack of dogs, than that I got bit.  It looked a lot worse than it was, but Panky patched me up; said infection was the real danger, wanted to make sure that I was patched up right.  Meanwhile, Sam took the watch.

The two wounded dogs flee, Panky misses another shot.

The dead dog checked out okay, we cleaned it, and settled in for the evening, knowing that we had fresh meat for breakfast.

Charlie's Journal - Long Range recon: Day 3

Day 3

Things started to look different, seein' more plants and eventually came across a small river or stream.  There were a lot of really odd plants; Panky took some samples from them.  And there were birds! Hardy ever see birds back near Floyd.

We tested the water; it was good, so we filled up our tanks and canteens.  Me an Sam, we got in the water, splashed around a bit, got cleaned off.  Sam liked to drown me at one point.  Though I guess it was kind of funny, I seriously don't understand that woman.

Panky kept watch most of the time, though eventually cleaned up in the stream.  She seemed real uptight a lot of the time, and kept lookin' real close at some of the plants.  She also surveyed up and down the stream valley with the drone.

We finished up what we needed to do at the stream, got the batteries charged, had some chow, and then move on.  The plants quickly thinned out, and the countryside got back to dust and rocks.  We sheltered near some rocks, which gave us some cover for the night.  During my watch, I saw some dogs in the distance with the mobile viewer. That was about as exciting as it got.

It is really quiet at night in the wastes.