Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Hard Choices

Billy had been right about one thing, this fog was getting worse. Frank Teller slowed down as he entered the thick forest. The fog wasn't as bad in amongst the trees, but the road twisted and turned as if laid down by a drunk. Wasn't really the case, the road followed a stream which flowed down through a tight valley. There wasn't really any place else to put the road.

As he drove, making no more than twenty miles an hour, another thing he refused to change right there¹, he thought about the conversation he'd had with Billy. It made him uncomfortable. Yes, technically the deaths of those three soldiers was murder, as the local government had "invited" the peacekeepers in, those soldiers were here legally.

Just as he thought that, he remembered a thing he'd seen some years back, and which had been in his mind for a few months now, "The people who hid Anne Frank were breaking the law. The people who killed her were following it." Just because some group of lawmakers made a thing "legal," it didn't make it moral.

He'd stayed on as sheriff because he'd been asked to, he hadn't questioned the fact that no election for that office had been held in quite some time. The government had said that in this time of emergency, it was better to wait before holding new elections.

He had to admit, the last ones hadn't gone so well.

The young trooper was having trouble staying awake, so for what seemed the hundredth time, he stood up in the turret of the small, two-man scout car. It was the commander of the vehicle's turn to sleep, which he was, nestled into the driver's seat normally occupied by the trooper.

As he stretched, he noticed headlights coming down the road, brief glimpses of headlights actually, the road through the forest twisted and turned before straightening out just before the roadblock. No one else stirred, the other men were sleeping as soundly as his vehicle commander.

Frank slowed down even further as he came to a stretch of road near the forest's edge. There, in the fog and the gloaming, were at least two vehicles parked either side of the road, blocking it. There seemed to be a makeshift barrier across the road as well. He could just see them as there was a small fire near that barrier. He couldn't see any sign of people.

He slowed to nearly a stop as his headlights shown upon one of the vehicles, someone was standing in what had to be the turret of the vehicle, which he recognized as one of the old scout cars the peacekeepers had brought with them. What the Hell was this, he thought, no one had informed him of any roadblocks in this area.

He stopped the car and doused his headlights, he didn't like this, not one bit.

As soon as the car stopped and killed its lights, the trooper went to full alert, who does that kind of thing?

"Sergeant, wake up, something strange out here!"

He yelled down at the vehicle commander, who had started to stir when he heard the turret coming around.

"What's the fuss? Can't a man get any sleep around here..."

Just as those words came out of his mouth, the gun on his vehicle opened fire.

Frank jumped nearly out of his skin as he saw tracers fly over the roof of his vehicle. He immediately got on his PA system and announced, "County sheriff! Hold your fire damn it!"

When no further rounds came his way, he dialed to the military frequency on the radio the peacekeepers had installed in his car. Thinking to try and remember the call sign they had given him, he remembered then keyed the mike, "Military unit on County Road 12 North, this is Starman, hold your fire!"

Unfortunately, his message went to the local headquarters who then had to relay to the unit that the colonel had placed on the road in question. Who were not monitoring their radios!

The vehicle commander heard the PA call, he realized that he had to take command of the situation, he had no idea where the patrol commander was. He picked up his own mike and announced, "Civilian vehicle, turn on your interior lights and place your hands on top of the wheel, do not move!"

Grabbing his machine pistol, he told the trooper to cover him. He then dismounted.

Looking around he saw the men from the other scout car sleeping underneath their vehicle. The infantry carrier which should have been parked behind them was nowhere in sight. Where the Hell did that goddamn lieutenant go haring off to?

The interior lights in the civilian car came on to reveal a man sitting in the driver's seat, hands on the wheel as instructed. At that moment the spotlight on his scout car came on, shining directly into the driver's eyes.

Good idea trooper, the sergeant thought to himself.

As he began to move forward, he yelled at the other scout car crew, "Wake up you lazy bastards, get in your vehicle and watch to the rear!"

While Frank understood what was going on, he'd shown lights into the eyes of suspicious types himself more than once, he was still pissed off. This is my goddamned county you foreign bastards, he thought. Best to just sit still and not escalate the situation.

"Sir, please step out of the vehicle with your hands always in sight."

Once again Frank's ears were bothered by the stilted way these foreigners spoke, but he did as he was commanded.

The sergeant noticed the badge on the man's jacket, also the word "Sheriff" on the patch on his sleeve. Looking more closely, he finally recognized the man. It was the county sheriff, a man named Teller he recalled.

"So, Sheriff Teller, what brings you out here on such a nasty night?" the sergeant asked in what he thought was a polite tone, but which Teller took for sarcasm.

"I might ask you the same thing," Frank glanced down at the man's insignia, "sergeant. I'm investigating a triple homicide."

The foreign sergeant looked puzzled for a moment, then the word "homicide" registered. His English was only fair.

"Ah yes, the killings this morning. You have suspects?" The sergeant was proud of himself for remembering that word, "suspects."

Frank looked again at the sergeant, whose machine pistol was still pointed in his direction. "Say sergeant, do you mind if I put my hands down, I'm a little old for this. After all, aren't we on the same side?"

"Of course, Sheriff, my apologies." As he said that the sergeant also lowered his weapon.

"Do you have a pass to be out here after curfew?" the sergeant asked.

Frank looked nonplussed for a moment, "A pass Sergeant? My badge and my office are my pass. Has something changed in the last few hours?" He then worried that he might have gone too far, but the soldier was from a place where freedom was something people read about, not something they had ever experienced themselves.

The sergeant looked embarrassed for a moment, then reverted to type, "My apologies Sheriff, no nothing has changed. I would guess that you need to be on your way?"

"Yes, if you could clear a path, that would be excellent. Are you in command here?"

The sergeant hesitated for a moment, then said, "Yes, yes, I am in charge while my lieutenant is investigating elsewhere."


"Yes, Sheriff, please, let me clear a path for you."

After the sergeant had had one of the vehicles back off the road and the sheriff had passed through. That same sergeant wondered if he had done the right thing, letting the local man go through. As he had no orders to the contrary, just to look for suspicious activities, he decided that he had done the right thing.

But he wished that his lieutenant had been on the scene. He wondered what that man was up to at the moment.

As Frank drove away from the roadblock, a call came in on his county radio.

"Patrol One, Homebase, we've got a call of a disturbance over in Brooktown."

Brooktown was a small village just off the road ahead. Frank had to wonder what the Hell would be going on there in the middle of the night. Then he remembered the nervousness of the sergeant when asked whether he was in charge or not.

Frank accelerated to get to Brooktown, he had a feeling he knew where that man's lieutenant was, Brooktown had a small bar.

Frank's car rolled into Brooktown, he saw that there was an ambulance outside "O'Reilly's Bar and Grille" parked next to one of the peacekeepers' armored infantry carriers. He didn't like the looks of this.

He turned his lights on, then pulled into O'Reilly's parking lot. There were two paramedics working on someone splayed out near the door of the bar. A foreign soldier, Frank saw the weapon slung over the man's back, was standing nearby, smoking a cigarette.

That man turned to him as he walked up to the scene.

"This matter is not your concern Sheriff Teller. One of the locals started a fight with one of my men, my man finished the fight."

Frank looked down, he saw Will Hopkins, a local troublemaker and ne'er-do-well, on his back struggling to breathe. He could see why, he'd been either shot or stabbed. One of the paramedics was trying to control the bleeding, the other was trying to intubate the victim.

"Sorry," again Frank had to look at the man's insignia, "lieutenant, but this sort of thing is exactly my concern. If you wish, you can take that up with your colonel. That man on the ground is a civilian, definitely my concern."

Turning to the small crowd gathered around, Frank asked "Any witnesses see what happened?"

The foreign lieutenant immediately said, "I already told you what happened and..."

Frank ignored the man, he noticed that Judd Walker was standing in the crowd, they had served together overseas. "Judd, go inside and call 5211, tell the operator 'Blue on blue,' then tell them authorization code 'Whiskey niner fife tree.' You got that?"

Judd nodded then went inside. Turning to the lieutenant Frank asked, "Have you got anything else to add lieutenant? Perhaps you should return to your roadblock, your sergeant is missing you."

Frank could see the lieutenant turn pale, he knew he'd made an enemy there. But he honestly didn't care. He heard the lieutenant bark a command at his troops, who all loaded up in their vehicle and drove off.

Things were going to Hell in a handbasket.

Frank Teller had just resolved to join the resistance, these bastards had gotten on his last nerve.

¹ There had been a recent government "mandate" to begin using the metric system.


  1. Man the blood pressure is going to go up reading this series.......

    1. I know what you mean. He's doing good. Dragging us in, like we're there. I mean, I was that sheriff for a second.

    2. Nylon12 - I'll try not to drive it up too high.

    3. You go where your Muse takes you Sarge, don't worry about we readers.........:)

    4. I had my Dr's visit yesterday, was reading Sarge's post while waiting for his Nurse to come in. Bad move. First thing she did was take my BP. Suffice it to say, it was not "within 'ceptable parameters". She asked me if I was worried or something that concerned me that would cause my BP to be high. I asked if Biden was still in Office. She laughed. I also showed her the data from my smart watch which showed a consistent BP level on a regular basis.

      So...Thanks Sarge!

    5. Perhaps a medical warning is in order?


    6. Us folk are like an old steam engine. No matter how fast you stoke it, it takes time to reach pressure. Steam engines are might powerful things, once their pressure is up. Maybe not the fastest things, but with lots of torque.

      They done full steamed up a triple expansion system running a turbine. Never full steam up a triple expansion system unless you're running into trouble.

    7. Not enough steam in real life. Yet.

  2. Daaamn, you got me to swallow this one hook, line, and sinker, no nibbling on the bait. This ranks with some of your best yet. Bravo Zulu, well done, nice episode. After reading this three times, one teensy tiny nit to pick... how were the men from the other scout car still sleeping after the trooper fired a burst over the sheriffs vehicle, and if they were so dead to the world how could the seargent's voice wake them up? As a former NCO I have "The Voice" (It's needed in noisy Naval engineering spaces), but even I cant compete with automatic weapons fire. Or are these really crappy soilders, who won't wake up for gunfire (at the risk of their own lives) but will wake up to get thier ass chewed by the seargent? Other than that, this episode was perfect.

    1. Crappy soldiers. You hear the rounds going out, hear nothing coming back. Thought is, let's just stay here under the vehicle. Never know if someone out there might start shooting at us, let's wait for someone to tell us what to do. Then the sergeant does. They were awake, just not motivated.

    2. Gotchya', understood.

    3. Well, the "Voice" used to be followed by the butt-stroke back when we had a non-diverse, non-unity, pan-sexual military.

      It's how I learned to fight, not from the quiet 'please, please' people but from the people who, if you didn't follow their suggestion, would impart that suggestion with enough bruise to remind you never to do it again. That's how I learned to keep my shield low...

      Really crappy soldiers would have run away, or shot wildly and hit their own people. Good thing these were just crappy soldiers.

    4. You're going way back with that one.

    5. I'm older now, but I still have that voice too. I call it my "flight deck voice". Useful for being heard over screaming jet aircraft.
      Had a relative of the 'hands off, you'll hurt their feelings' school of parenting. His kids were running up & down the hall, screaming, ignoring his "Please don't do that, calm down". I let them approach my end of the hall & turned the Voice loose on 'em. Damned near saw smoke, they stopped so fast. Got quiet, too.
      --Tennessee Budd

    6. The old ways work, the new ways, not so much.

  3. 'Blue on blue,' them tell them authorization code....(then tell them)

    Sorry, I'm not usually so active in comments, but... I'm up, it's my day off, and that was why I've read this now 6 times, I saw this the first time through but didn't catch it on the other 4 passes, now I found it again. I usually leave the editing to others, but, like I said I'm up and don't have anything else to to right now. Please don't be annoyed... I really like what you do.

    1. Whoops, I know how easy it can happen, fat fingered the "y", Ironic in the "n" "m" post. I'll leave now... Have Fun !

    2. D'oh! Who put the "n" and the "m" so close together?

    3. I fat-finger stuff all the time, good thing we get three tries at work before getting locked out!

  4. If Sheriff Frank had really "resolved to join the resistance", that lieutenant would not make it out of the parking lot alive...

    1. If the sheriff wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, sure. I'm pretty sure the infantrymen would take action if the sheriff gunned down their lieutenant.

    2. Best position for Sheriff Frank is to transition from peace-keeper, between the occupation and the people of the land, to intel gatherer and instigator of low-level petty issues that take out what morale and what equipment the occupation force has.

      A little sand or sugar here, a fake hint dropped there, not enough to get him noticed but enough to allow him to pass intel and seriously screw in the long-term the occupation and those that brought in the occupation.

  5. It could still be soldiers from Quebec (French speakers). Their provincial government mandates the size of lettering on signs, very authoritarian (fist province in Canada to mandate and issue COVID passports), and they hate non French-speaking people. Most of them can speak English especially at the Sr NCO level and above. This is right up their alley. Pro-tip the name of the Quebec Regiment is the Royal 22nd Regiment (en français: le Royal 22e Régiment)

    1. Le Vingt-deuxième!

      I worked with a number of French-Canadians in NATO, for the most part damned good comrades. The dislike of English-speakers is somewhat overblown, IMHO.

      Mon arrière-grand-père était québécois.

    2. The dislike of English-speakers by the politicians of Quebec and the intelligensia of Quebec and all the leftist socialist 'correct people' of Quebec is immense.

      Funny, none or most none of the aforementioned people of Quebec, curiously located in the cities, tend to serve in the military in any shape or form. They will seek to control, advise, run, ruin, destroy the military, whom they look down upon as bog-people, just like they look down upon the rural Québécois as bog-people, almost as bad as Americans.

      We see a lot of the snooty Québécois here in Florida. They are, as a whole, a bunch of self-inflated, hateful, nasty, insular, conceited and self-important bunch. Like a bunch of John Kerrys, all.

      The rural people of Quebec we see down here in Florida? We get along with them, because bog-people get along with dirt-people.

      Curiously, we also don't get along with the city-folk of large, leftist, cities that think of themselves as superior to us dirt-people.

      Apparently, dirt people and bog people have no culture and no future, which is why they are losers and choose to join the military and/or stay dirt people and/or bog people.

    3. With the current "leadership" in the US, would they not more likely be Chicom???

    4. Always a possibility, but the Chinese tend to be more subtle than that. The UN would make a good front.

    5. Yes. I could see them using foreign troops that look the same, speak the same language as Americans as the combat troops (they can do the dying)...but the Chinese political officers at the general and colonel rank level would be intertwined with the Executive and Legislative...perhaps even the Judicial branches of government to help "write policy and guide" the country. It would be called a "Coalition".

  6. Tomorrow's not all that far off.

  7. This is how low scale conflicts escalate. The colonel, were he to actually pay attention to this, would do himself a huge favor with the local population population and law enforcement by putting the lieutenant and his squad in the slammer. He will not, of course, as he will not admit to civilian control.

    This is how any population becomes first aware and then involved: arrogance that flouts itself as "We are better than you" and demonstrates that it believes in its own superiority with force.

    1. In situations like this, depending on whom is sponsoring the lieutenant or whose family said lieutenant belongs to (either an extended or a direct family link) the Colonel may not have the power to control said lieutenant.

      We see it, sadly, now in our own military. But it is something my father and his friends all bitched about in their bitch sessions when dealing with foreign officers and personnel. That was in the 60's and early 70's and I doubt anything has changed for the better.

  8. Yup TB, read about the "revolt" in Athens, TN. Same thing, only no foreigners.

    Very good writing. It is so quickly engaging, you almost don't realize you've been involved. It's like barbed-wired, it just snags you without warning.

    1. Very much agreed.

    2. STxAR - A proud moment in US history, which sadly is not well known. Corrupt cops and politicians, what could possibly go wrong?

    3. I had never heard of it, googled it just now, and wasn't past the second sentence when I was struck by an odd coincidence. The political party in power that sparked the uprising is the same one as is in power now. And much of the BS they did is exactly the same as now. I'm sure it's just coincidence however.

      Ok, maybe not. But thanks, STxAR, for bringing it up. I learned something new.

    4. Can a leopard change it's stripes?

      I think not.

    5. I was always "entertained" by the notion that those Athenian civilians turned soldiers returned to civilians cleaned the firearms before returning them to the TN National Guard Armory after serving their purpose. Good soldiering habits die hard. regards, Alemaster

    6. A very nice detail there. I missed that.

    7. It is one of the reasons that Posse Comitatus exists in the US. The greatest threat to the US citizen has always been it's own government.

      Of course, the very administration that needs posse comitatus used against it is the very administration that will ignore PC.


    8. Those guys (like my Dad) grew up with corrosive primers. If course they're gonna clean "their" weapons; it's what you do.
      Good job on the Sheriff's "conversion" Sarge; I was thinking he might go the other way.
      Boat Guy

    9. I wanted to make him a good guy, rough around the edges, but a good guy.

    10. Sorta like having a bleeding-heart get mugged.
      Gotta say I'm prejudiced towards Sheriffs, least real country ones.

    11. Hey Juvat, happy to help a brother out. 80's tv movie about it too....

    12. Really? I need to track that down.

    13. BG - In a good way or a bad way?

    14. Disc world author Terry Pratchett used to say, " The leopard doesn't change his shorts ".

    15. An American Story, 1992. Whoopsed the date a bit.... heheh rusty memory.... sorry!

  9. Opening episode didn't grab me, but I'm fully committed now, eager for more.
    You got the gift, and won't lack for things to do when you finally ditch the day job. I think Tom Clancy quit peddling insurance after he started writing, and never regretted it.
    John Blackshoe

  10. Ah, hell. They went Full Red Dawn. Never go Full Red Dawn. Next thing you'll know, kids will be scrawling BADGERS or such-like creatures all over the place, bombs will go off, people shot, people stabbed, supplies raided, random other kids will be screaming BADGERS or such-like creature names, and a good movie will be made 30 years later showing the rock with the list of dead kids who shouted BADGERS or such-like creatures.

    The Resistance has always been better when 'local civilian authorities' are involved, as long as the LCA stay on the side of the Resistance.

    There will be much 'resistance' to Sheriff Frank by many of the Resistance, but I am sure it will work out well for all, on this side of said Resistance.

    Foreign troops on US soil. Makes my blood boil. Then I think of those poor bastard Canadians, whose Prime Minister has invited ChiCom People's Liberation Army Air Force forces to train in Canada. Poor bastard Canadians.

    I see two paths ahead. The path of continuous destruction leading to feudal societies springing up based on war-fighting ability, rather than the feudal societies we seem to be sliding into due to our political betters creating said feudal societies and we-un dirt-peoples becoming the new serfs and peasants and out-right slaves... Or... Down the road Old-School American Freedom will break out all over the world, as the dirt-peoples stand up to their oppressors.

    Good story. And, like juvat and others, makes my blood boil.

    Use a pistol to get a shotgun to get a rifle to get a machine gun to get the big guns to get the bastards. That's the progression of armed resistance.

    And I think we've become one side of the Spanish Civil War, the side of the internationalists, except we're the Nationalists, but they had the nice uniforms and controlled the cities, so, well, Spanish Civil War except the Socialists are in control of the city and the conservatives being the people with not good uniforms in the roll of the people's resistance.

    Gah. I hate this crap. Want this crap to go away. Never really ever wanted a whole class of people lined up against the wall and getting the Ceaușescu treatment. Joked about it, never wanted it. Getting to be a needful thing. Gah. HATE THIS CRAP!

    1. Beans, remember your Kipling:
      "...yes, we have always been slaves,
      But you, you will die of the shame
      And then we will dance on your graves!"
      Might not wait around for shame to do the job. Notoriously slow, it is.
      --Tennessee Budd

    2. There's a slave mentality right there. Since when do slaveowners die of shame?

      Haven't seen that historically.

  11. @juvat/

    BTW, did you ever ask your Doc about use of tumeric to prevent joint inflamation?

    1. Yes, I did. He'd never heard about it, but "would look into it". Next appointment is right after Christmas, I'll ask again.

  12. As to the makeup of the enemy troops, thank you for making them, so far, foreigners. I would hate for it to be citizen against citizen.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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