> TEOTWAWKI Blog: You Took Away Tomorrow: Chapter 3 - Sucker Punch

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6/11/13

You Took Away Tomorrow: Chapter 3 - Sucker Punch

The next entry in the ongoing story, where reader comments guide the characters' actions as they struggle through an evolving society collapse. Read along and then share how you would react in the given scenario--I am looking forward to hearing from the tribe!

Chapter 3: Sucker Punch

              Jack and Tex talked over their various options for fifteen minutes, and then consulted with Fiona, Esmerelda and Amy. The decision was made to wait a while longer for the others to show up; if they did not arrive and communications were not restored, then a scout party would be sent out to go look for them in the early morning. On the same trip, the scout party, consisting of Tex, Amy and potentially Jack, would also make stops by the group members’ homes to gather additional supplies.
              In the meantime, the group would do what they could to prepare for and plan out their next moves.
The Rourke home had its own well for water, complete with a secondary, solar powered backup pump, solar panels and a small bank of deep-cycle batteries, so they were self-sufficient for their water needs. If the solar well pump failed, Jack had a small Yamaha generator, and Tex had a generator in his camper trailer. If those failed or ran out of gas, then there was a forest stream a short walk away and the group’s water filters for purification. And, of course, that was in addition to the considerable stores of water already in place—Jack had six blue, 55 gallon water barrels, stacks of bottled water and a half dozen 5 gallon military water cans. Tex had bottled water and military water cans in his camper, plus the camper’s drinking water tank.


In fact, because their water supply was in such good shape but the natural gas supply to their water heater uncertain, Jack insisted on warm showers for everyone who wanted one. If and when the gas supply went out, then Tex’s trailer would be the only source of hot showers. Like the barbeque, a quick hot shower was a welcome bit of normalcy that helped calm the nerves.  
Between the Rourke’s food storage and what Tex had brought along, they had food enough for several weeks to a few months, so food was not an immediate concern. If the emergency extended beyond a medium-term problem, then they would run into shortages, but that was not an immediate concern, nor a problem they could immediately resolve.
The generators, solar panels and a good supply of batteries gave the group an adequate supply of electricity for the time being. Jack and Fiona moved some of the perishable food from the fridge to the deep freezer in the garage, and the rest went into a cooler with frozen bottles of water from the freezer. Rechargeable LED lanterns were used for lighting inside of the home.
Jack and Tex took it upon themselves to manage security for the time being. Aside from the scattered and inconsistent reports of localized rioting and looting heard over the radio, the group did not have a clear picture of what was happening around them. Their street was quiet, save for the background hum of generators running at several of the homes.
Both men carried pistols holstered on their hips—Jack, his Glock 17 with a Surefire weaponlight and Tex a blued Springfield 1911 with stag grips. Jack kept his AR-15 close by, and Tex did the same with a stainless .45/70 lever action rifle. They made plans to switch off watch in the middle of the night, with Jack sleeping first.
The home’s windows were already boarded up tightly, which gave the group an added measure of security, but also of course limited their view of the outside world. They decided that the man on watch would stay out in the front yard to keep an eye on their surroundings. Walkie-talkies were kept on, and it was decided that at least one other adult would remain awake at all times.
While Jack’s radiation meter was still reading normal, the group decided to camp out in the basement as a precaution. Blow up mattresses and sleeping bags were broken out, the couches pushed into service as beds and the children piled into the guest bedroom. To the kids, it was a sleep over. To the adults, it wasn’t home, but it was tolerable. None of them were really particularly interested in sleep, either, still recovering and adjusting mentally from the events of the day. Scriptures were read, prayers were said and the children, thankfully, went to sleep without putting up a fight.
Esmerelda and Fiona teamed up to measure and pre-cut the plastic sheeting from the hardware store into the right dimensions to cover each window, staging them nearby in case the decision was made to seal up the house.
Amy, still anxious and frustrated about the loss of communications, took it upon herself to monitor the airwaves. Jack dug his world band radio out of storage and handed it over to her. Within minutes, Amy had it tuned into a foreign news station. The group quickly gathered around.
              “—launching the region into a full scale nuclear exchange,” said the British newscaster, “The Israeli military has issued statements claiming that its counterattacks against key targets have led to a decisive victory over the Iranian regime. Communications in and out of the region are sporadic, but the British Ministry of Defense has confirmed multiple nuclear explosions in Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as well as multiple explosions across Iran, including the capital city of Tehran.”
              “Wait—Israel? This isn’t just us?” Jack said, echoing what the others were thinking. All were too enthralled in the radio reports to respond.
              “Meanwhile, American and South Korean military forces are reporting open conflict along the Demilitarized Zone, as North Korean forces attempt to fight their way across the long-held buffer zone. North Korean government outlets have issued statements declaring a full state of warfare with the South, vowing not to cease hostilities until the democratic government turns over control to Pyongyang.”
              “This is World War Three,” Tex said.
              “The United States is still reeling in the aftermath of the twin attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. American authorities are struggling to get rescue workers closer to the blast zones in order to survey the damage and casualties, but initial estimates range into the millions of dead. Many outlets are reporting that the President, Vice President and other senior government officials were amongst those killed. Secretary of State Susan Hearst, on a diplomatic mission in China, has issued a written statement claiming temporary authority to act as President of the United States.
              “In addition to the attacks, there are numerous reports of far ranging failures in utility services across the country. Entire regions of the country have become communications black holes, with a complete loss of phone and electric services. There are no official reports from American sources on the cause of these outages, but sources in the Ministry of Defense have speculated that they may be due to an act of cyber-terrorism. No nation or group has yet claimed responsibilities for the attacks.”
              “United Nations representatives and Heads of State across the globe have pledged solidarity and assistance for America, and anger over the attacks…”
              Jack had to sit down.
              “I don’t understand—what does this all mean?” Esmerelda asked. The question hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity, the broadcaster’s voice filling in the void.
              “It means we got sucker punched. Broadsided when we weren’t paying attention,” Tex finally said, frustration and simmering rage clear in his voice. Jack nodded.
              “I think you’re right. My guess—Iran, North Korea or someone like them was in on the attacks today. As long as the U.S. was playing policeman of the globe, those guys couldn’t fight the war they wanted—attack Israel, invade South Korea. So, you sucker punch America, like Tex said, catch us off guard and distract us for long enough to fight your fight.”
              “And what better way than to knock out D.C. and New York, and then turn the cyber nerds loose?” Tex added.
              “But that is suicidal! Surely they can’t think we won’t fight back,” Fiona said.
              “Will we? No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks—will we launch nuclear warheads on a country because we have a hunch they might have been behind the attacks?” Jack responded.
              “We damn well better nuke them all back to the Stone Age,” Tex said.
              “Kill them all. Every last one of them,” Amy added coolly, tears rolling down her cheeks. Again, there was a long pause as the others tried to gather their thoughts.
              “Look, that problem is out of our hands. Regardless of what the military does, now we know more about what is going on out there. We know what is happening overseas. We know why the power is out and why the phones aren’t working. If those outages really are due to some kind of cyber terrorism, then I’ve got to think we will be able to get the infrastructure back up and running eventually. And, given that the likely suspects seem to be preoccupied fighting their wars, I would think the chances of any other serious follow-up attacks on the U.S. are pretty low. So, things are bad, but there’s a good chance they won’t get any worse,” Jack said, realizing that it was a small consolation given the magnitude of the events they’d just learned of. The world was at war.
              The discussion continued as the radio sounded in the background, various so-called experts and field reporters joining the program with their own theories of what was going on around the world. The reports offered speculation and minor details of the attacks and the conflicts raging around the world, but little else of real substance, save cautions about radiation for citizens in states bordering New York and D.C. Eventually, they shut the radio off—it was causing more stress, angst and frustration than good.
              Despite the news, the group’s plans did not materially change. Hunker down at the Rourke house, at least until the threat of fallout passed.
With mixed feelings of anger and despair, all of the adults had trouble getting any rest. The night dragged on. Eventually, with sunrise approaching and still no sign of the Blackwells or Kyle, the scout party organized for their trip.
The final decision was made to take two vehicles, with Jack joining in. Tex and Amy would ride in Tex’s diesel 80s-vintage Chevy pickup, Jack would ride in his Tacoma. Two vehicles gave them redundancy in case something broke down or got stuck.
Amy declined the offer to carry a firearm on the trip, and only reluctantly agreed to come along in order to ease any concerns from neighbors when they swung by her home to retrieve additional supplies.
After some discussion, the men decided to carry their pistols, which were covered by their concealed carry permits. They had some concerns about police roadblocks, searches and similar, so they decided to leave the bigger long guns at home. Jack brought along some serious backup in the form of his AR-15 pistol—a short barreled AR-15 that lacked a proper stock, and because it was legally registered as a pistol, was also covered under his concealed carry permit. It was light and maneuverable in tight quarters, and the buffer tube, inherent in the AR-15 design, almost made up for the lack of a real stock. The AR pistol also concealed well inside a gym bag, and along with a bandoleer of magazines, gave Jack more than enough firepower to deal with whatever he thought they might face.
Similarly, trying to maintain a low profile, they wore normal street clothes—jeans and button-up shirts. Communications would be maintained by walkie-talkies. They tossed get home bags packed with water, some basic food and other supplies into the vehicles on the off chance that they had to hike home.  
With long guns passed out to Fiona and Esmerelda, Jack and Tex hugged their spouses goodbye, and then loaded up and headed out, Jack taking the lead in his Tacoma. They’d drawn out a route that would take them to the Blackwell’s first, then to the MacNab home, then along Kyle’s estimated route of travel, and then stopping back by Tex’s home on the way back.
“Hope they’re safe back home,” Tex said into the walkie as they pulled onto the country road.
“They will be. Momma bears with guns are not to be messed with,” Jack responded.
It was just before dawn, the night sky barely beginning to show the first few signs of giving way to the morning light. The road was quiet and empty. They took back roads towards the Blackwell’s home, passing by the shopping center Jack had visited the day prior. The usual 24 hour gas station was closed and security grates had been pulled over the grocery store’s doors and windows. The center looked like a ghost town, save a police cruiser parked in front of the hardware store, headlights on. The cruiser made no move to follow as they passed by.
“At least it looks like there wasn’t any trouble here,” Jack said.
“Yep, but they ain’t exactly wide open for business, Rourke,” Tex transmitted back.
As they travelled onwards, gradually moving into worse parts of town, more signs of trouble began to emerge. A car, flipped on its roof, pushed to the shoulder of the road, broken glass still strewn across the asphalt. A drug store with windows smashed, security grate torn out of place, lying wrecked in the parking lot. A man only in boxer shorts, wielding a baseball bat and a bottle of cheap malt liquor, stumbled down the sidewalk. The drunk seemed totally oblivious as they sped past.
They turned off the main road and onto another that led towards the Blackwell’s neighborhood.
“Almost there—a couple of miles to go,” Jack said.
“Yep; stay frosty,” Tex responded.
Turning onto the Blackwell’s street, Jack’s internal alarm bells started to go off. There was trash and debris strewn all over the place—broken chairs, beer bottles, an ancient flat screen TV riddled with what looked like bullet holes. The charred wreckage of a 90s vintage Chrysler sat in the driveway of a mobile home, the home’s front door flapping in the wind. Two thirds of the way down the block, the remains of a large bonfire smoldered in the middle of the street, a half dozen mattresses and a handful of camp chairs surrounding it, with a variety of beat-up cars parked alongside the makeshift campsite or angled across the street. Even with his truck’s windows rolled up, Jack could hear and almost feel the booming bass that echoed from one of the car’s stereo systems.
The mattresses and chairs were definitely still occupied but at the distance and in the darkness, it was difficult to make out details. The lack of movement suggested the people were sleeping. Jack guessed the group to be easily twenty people, quite possibly more.
Jack put on the brakes and flipped off his Tacoma’s headlights, hoping that the group hadn’t yet noticed him.
“Kill your lights. Big group up ahead, camping out in the street. I’m going to guess they’re the ones that made this mess—want to avoid dealing with them if we can,” Jack said into the radio.
“Roger that. Can we still get to the Blackwell’s or do we have to go through the camp?”
They would have to navigate a few obstacles—a flipped over kitchen table, a torn open bag of garbage being picked through by a stray dog—but the campsite was set back a hundred or so yards from the Blackwell’s home.
“Yes, we’re good. Follow me in,” Jack said, stepping gently on the gas. He was glad for the loud music—it would hopefully cover the sounds of their engines. They moved in closer and around the obstacles, closing in on their destination.
The Blackwell’s front yard was partly obscured by a large tree in their neighbor’s yard. As the view cleared, a scene of horror came into focus—the shirtless body of a tattooed black man, face down in the middle of the walkway. The front door, with holes kicked into it, set back off its hinges.
“Crap Tex, something happened--looks like a dead guy in their yard!” Jack shouted, reaching for the AR pistol and drawing it from the duffle bag, a feeling of panic starting to set in.
“Wait, what?” came Tex’s confused response.
Jack stepped on the gas, racing the last few hundred feet towards the Blackwell’s home. His mind seemed to almost stall out for a moment, overwhelmed by the combination of adrenaline and honest to goodness horror. He struggled to determine what to do next. Who should go into the home—him, Tex—both? How? They weren’t a SWAT team—what if the home was occupied? What if—heaven forbid—the Blackwells were hurt? What about the gang camped out a stone’s throw away?

35 comments :

  1. Every one in the camp is dead.

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  2. AnonymousJune 11, 2013

    Yep, I think they are dead also. Hope the Blackwells are in their home hiding, smart enough to have pulled one of the dead guys onto their walkway to deter everyone else. Hope the group has a prearranged signal with the Blackwells so they don't get shot trying to rescue them.

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  3. GodfatherJsJune 11, 2013

    Everyone says wait and everything will be fine....... noone ever listens!

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  4. Well, we knew the blackwells were not in the best of neighborhoods so this type of looting is expected, a little early, but expected. Is there a way they can get their trucks back behind the house? Also I would send Tex and Amy in the house, Jack with his AR as lookout and enforcer in case the mob arises. I would definitely check the house for the blackwells and supplies. Obviously when Amy and Tex enter they would announce themselves and maybe they would know where the Blackwells "safe room" is and see if it is occupied. You would be able to gather Intel on whether they left their house intentionally or forcefully. I say this because looters at this stage would be interested in short term food supplies not medical and long term food storage items, so if the house has a ton of stored medical emergency type stuff and family pictures etc. then most likely the Blackwells are on their own! If the Blackwells are there, get them out and to safety, leave a note stating you were there and let them know you'll be "at the place in the woods" in "X" amount of days.

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  5. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    I think that Jack, and Tex should breach the house as fast as they can, the moment they find the Blackwells, Tex will rush out back the trucks up near the doorway, ready for a quick escape and pull security. While Jack asseses the family, if they are still healthy he gives himself and them 3 minutes to load as much as they can in the trucks. If wounded, load them up and only quickly grab a few things then get outta there. As for the gang, I don't think they're dead, my assumption is that theyre a mob, there not thinking straight therefore might not post a watch. However I could be wrong, if they do notice Jack and Tex, and start to head they're way then get everyone in the trucks and get the heck outta there.

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  6. Do they have experience clearing a house? That is difficult even in the best of circumstances, but with a mob outside and in the predawn light I would be concerned. The idea to pull around back was a good one, that way if the Blackwells are ambulatory they can also load supplies in the trucks.

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    1. Tex - basically no experience. Jack - some basic training; he's read up on it, practiced it and done some training, but certainly nothing live.

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  7. OK, they have to at least be reasonably familiar with the neighborhood layout. Is it smart to go in the front, go around back, tap on windows, pull one vehicle into the side yard between houses, etc.? I would much more consider going around back or whatever stays out of sight and draws the least amount of attention. They may even want to drive on by and circle back to not identify their initial house of interest.
    With two vehicles, whatever they decide, they need to keep at least one of the cars running, in a security position and as inconspicuously manned with an armed sentry as possible. And no pre-planning of different contingencies before they took off? Not good. Especially considering they went looking for their friends after a failure of communicationsto/getting to the rally point.
    Get the initial adrenaline under control. Jack was the one who reminded everybody to "stay frosty." Rushing in without thinking is a great way to get dead. Whatever has gone down here is at least a few hours old. Assess the situation clearly first. They only know there's a man down or passed-out in the neighbor's yard with the front of that house breached and trashed. It could have been a riot in the street, or maybe it was just one heck of a party. Now assess the Blackwell's house.
    Use the large tree as much as possible for cover and concealment. Amy needs one of the extra guns.
    Clearly have the egress route(s) from both the house and then the neighborhood identified before committing to the house entry. Get the first aid kit ready, too.
    Assuming they get any time bring out supplies, focus on the medicinals first. Water and food have been covered back at Jack's house. Mike's skills as an EMT will best be complimented by having the supplies he can use.

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  8. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    1st order of business would be assess the house look for tell tale signs of entry around area's other then the front door. Second come through a side entry door or window if that is not possible clear the house through windows as much as possible announce your presence give very clear orders if anybody is found. If nobody is found check for signs that they left essantial supplies and vehicles gone if their is nothing left they bugged out and are somewhere on the road.

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  9. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    Rourke and Tex have to clear the house with Amy and the AR pistol covering the campers. The men should take a FAK or any medical supplies with them to treat any injuries the Blackwells may have. They will have to make decisions based on what they find in the house. If the family is unharmed they can load up as much as possible without detection and head out.If the family has casualties then getting them stabilized and to help is the priority. If the family is not there then supplies should be loaded up and any clues as to where they may be checked out. And all of that could be stopped at any time due to contact from the campers.I'll bet they wish they had their rifles with them now!
    C Scout

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  10. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    Well first off they have to go into the house or at minimum get a visual from a window of what happened. If they don't they won't be able to live with themselves. They MUST be as quiet as possible and hopefully not fire a single round as that camp would likely come to check out any noise. First you have to get your vehicles to a place of some concealment with at least one evac route, hopefully more. I think then you have whichever guy is more stealthy do a recon of the entire outside of the house and try and get a view inside of the conditions there. Since this person will be dealing with more close quarters they should just have their pistol leaving the AR back with the vehicles. Must stay in contact via radio but again keep the noise down. If it looks possible go ahead into the house and do a recon of it. Hopefully you can recover some people and supplies but at this point I would not bet on it the people. Supplies are likely going to be there as the stuff that would have likely been looted to this point would have just been the party supplies. Under no circumstances do you engage the camp gang as they have superior numbers, know the layout of the area better, and likely have superior firepower. If somehow you arouse their attention then immediate retreat is in order with or without any supplies or even vehicles.

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  11. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    First, the gang is most likely not dead, as I doubt someone killed them and then laid them on the mattresses. Second, with the dead guy still there and the front door in a compromised condition, the gang is not comprised of friendlies, and the Blackwells are either not at home, or are dead. Also, those seen sleeping in the camp probably don't make up the entire roster...someone is watching (even scumbags want to live, and understand the concept of being killed in their sleep). Jack has already screwed the pooch by racing on into the scene. If possible, they need to pull back, and recon/assess the scene as much as possible from some distance. The last thing they want to do is get cut off from an escape route by pulling both vehicles into close proximity between the Blackwells and the camp...not until they assess the situation anyways.

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  12. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    Okay , Amy is unarmed, she should get armed NOW!!! no frekin argument, that is if she can shoot without hurting herself or someone else. Has the group established challenge and response call signs for just this type of situation to identify each other so they don't shoot each other.??? Lot's of was to get screwed here and they must go very carefully as described in a lot of ways above. Can they leave communication for the blackwells or will they be smart enough to not even go home seeing the shithole that is already set up.

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  13. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    1. Gang is not dead, too many of them, not enough of the Blackwell's.
    2. If Blackwell's are alive someone will be watching- pull up- they exit with supplies- away we go.
    3. If Blackwell's are incapacitated, or dead, (likely) Amy stays with the car and the AR. If campers move, beep horn and be ready to engage.
    4. Rourke and Tex- check the home from a distance and circumnavigate the home looking for ingress, egress points and signs of B&E.
    5. Depending on assesment of scene- enter, clear home, grab the Blackwell's and whatever supplies are left.
    6. This story is awesome.

    -Mervo

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  14. AnonymousJune 12, 2013

    Many good comments and observations above; however, I also don't think the unruly mob is dead.

    They are there and armed and the gaggle of rabble is mostly asleep and will be fairly slow to wake and organize. I think they have the best opportunity they are going to get in order to check out the Blackwell residence anytime soon. Park the vehicles for a quick exit, do a quick reconnaissance,post a sentry, and go in. The Blackwell's may have successfully defended their home against the mob, and could be holed up inside. Jack and company should probably announce themselves as they enter to be on the safe side.

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  15. The first rule of EMT training - make sure the scene is safe before a rescue is attempted. The mob needs to be scouted, exit routes established, then entry into the house, if the scene is safe. Tex and Jack enter the house together,as a team, after announcing their presence, to check on the Blackwells. Amy moves to the driver seat, with the truck in position to watch and exit quickly.

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  16. I say park the cars a block away--out of sight of the mob. Leave someone to guard the cars and then send at least 1 person to scout out the house. Sneak in there--the door is open. Two big cars might draw attention, but one dude slinking into the house likely won't. Seems likely that no one is home and perhaps the house has been ransacked already--no supplies of value left. No need to pull big giant cars up just yet.

    If you go inside and they're home and ok I still wouldn't bring the cars in. Carry what you can and sneak back off to the trucks. If they aren't home maybe they left a clue or something, you can sneak back to the car with minimal risks. If you must use the cars (maybe they are injured or there's some heavy gear you can't live without), scout the house out first on first, get the Blackwells and any supplies ready at the front door, then quickly (but quietly) have someone pull one car up (you probably don't need two for this) pile everyone in super quickly and then quietly get out of there.

    In this case stealth, speed, and maintaining a low key presence is of the utmost importance. Don't pull the cars up until 100% necessary!

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  17. AnonymousJune 13, 2013

    First of all, thank you for publishing this for us to read. Second, it is very well written, much better than some of the stuff that is sold as professional fiction. Third, I already like some of the characters and their thoughts. I can't wait for the next chaper. Do you have a schedule so that we can time our reading?

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    1. Glad you like it so far!

      I don't have a schedule yet, though I'm thinking middle of the week and potentially end of the week for updates.

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  18. AnonymousJune 13, 2013

    First, no matter what is decided to do. Ditch the Diesel immediately. I love diesels and they're great for a lot of stuff but lets be honest, they definitely aren't quiet. Knowing the layout of the neighborhood would help a lot because if they could park the next street over directly behind Blackwells and hop a fence, that would be far better. Secondly, I'm assuming they have a manageable amount of room clearing skills, doesn't need to be exceptional but some basics are good. Tex and him should clear as much of the house outside as possible obviously using given cover/concealment. I would definitely go about this a stealthy way too. No knocks, no noise, no announce (only using a light if extremely important and using light discipline). I'm much more worried about that mob then I am a good friend of mine who knows how to use a weapon and target identify. I'd rather be shot by him then tortured and beat by those others. Anyways, Amy would have the AR pistol providing overwatch/support of the mob and any unknown threats and also overwatch the trucks if possible. If they find them get them out quickly, a challenge/password or number combo would work great if they had this preestablished. Grab whatever they can and leave. If the blackwells aren't there look for signs, a note they left, most of their stash is gone, or worst case blood in their bedrooms. Any clue is helpful, then grab any gear they left and get out of their quick. As well, they need to have long guns on all FOM's, preferably at least an AR/AK and a shotty, something with a high rate of fire that can get them out of dodge if need be. They should really have everyone "issued" a long gun to get comfy with, even if it's a bolt gun. As well I'm not advocating it, but if law & order is completely down, that pistol upper may go very well on a rifle lower for room clearing such as this. I do not advocate breaking this law, however it's important to view risk vs. reward in your AO. Just my .02.
    - JackintheBox

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  19. AnonymousJune 13, 2013

    From prior SWAT, deputy sheriff, firearms instructor perspective. Get somebody to the house to check for friendly survivors NOW with somebody covering from concealment or cover. Any friendlies will be very happy to hear the voices of friends, and if they have not been overrun, the house hold long guns (Not bringing at least cased guns in the trunk was a bad plan) and superior training of our characters will change this situation. Remember, simple plans (A and B) violently executed...
    Most lawbreaking cretins coming off a nite-time binge are not some tact team, they are looosers looking for soft targets. If they want to try and rob our group, show them the error of their ways.
    1. This has devolved into NO emergency public services, Fire, EMS, LE in a 24 hour time frame because of overwhelming number of calls, then no phones,no power or gasoline, personnel not reporting to work because they can't get there or not leaving their families.
    Our group needs to amp this up, this went from yellow to red when they left home.

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    1. AnonymousJune 16, 2013

      First, the search party was probably a bad idea. You have no idea what is happening, and could easily end up stranded, sending the whole group down the tubes. Now that you're there, cautiously approach the house and be ready for a hasty retreat, probably in one vehicle. Be WILLING & ABLE to put down covering fire in case of any approach from the street campers. znice people don't camp in the street.I think they worry too much about what is "legal". That matters little after a nuclear attack. Their friends are probably dead if there is a dead guy in the yard and a gang down the street. If they enter the house and circumstances permit, they should loot their friends house. If they save their friends, great. If their friends are dead, they don't need any of it anyway. The gang is probably not gathering supplies other than any weapons found yet, just taking the opportunity to run amok and "take whitey's shit".

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  20. This may be getting ahead of the story but the Secretary of State is 4th in line for the Presidency after the VP, Speaker of the House, and then President Pro Tempore ( leader of the party in majority ) of the Senate. It's reasonable that the Speaker and President Pro Tempore are radioactive ash but it hasn't been discussed at all.

    Secretary of State in China? That's a real Manchurian candidate!

    Getting back to where we are in the story, Jack has taken them out of stealth mode. They only have a few seconds to determine if any of the Blackwells are still alive and then be ready to leave before the gang at the bonfire start wondering what's going on. Send in Amy and have Jack and Tex wait in the cars.

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    1. Speaker and Senate Majority Leader are presumed dead.

      Don't forget - the camp has left booming rap music playing, so the sounds of their approach may go unnoticed :D

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  21. I really don't have anything to add, much.I say keep driving and then send 1 person in. I think they should have brought more guns. A pistol is nice for close range, but still not as good as a saw of shotgun or an AR. Any way you should slink up to the house stick you head in and quietly announce yourself. If you would rather be shot by a friendly, than get tortured by a mod, don't do either. The mob is at least 100 yards away! they are not going to hear a quite voice inside a building. If there are injured ing the house radio the vehicles and have the tacoma back up to the house. have every thing ready to trow in the back of the camper. This shouldn't take you more than 15 or 20 seconds. Also, if you get nothing else get their bug out bags.

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    1. Jack brought an AR pistol :D Same thing as an AR, with a shorter barrel and buffer tube with no stock. Google 'em up.

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  22. AnonymousJune 13, 2013

    I disagree with many here. The Blackwell house shows signs of fierce battle and a probable KIA is outside. The enemy is nearby. Jack, Tex and Amy are outnumbered and have nothing but close-range weapons. The enemy's disposition and weaponry has not even been scouted. Amy already has expressed her reluctance to wield firearms, and her likely combat skills are nil. The diesel engine may already have compromised the mission at the Blackwell house. Sometime, discretion is the better part of valor. I think our heroes should leave quickly, run the rest of the route to obtain reinforcements and long arms, and then return in greater strength in a stealthier approach. Remember, we have two women at home base who would sort of like to see Jack and his goup again.

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    1. AnonymousJune 14, 2013

      I thought this was spot on but then thought about it some more... If they don't attempt the search an/or rescue right now, and come back later, they will then find themselves broad daylight, and that compromises their stealth. And even if they bring everyone from Jack's house, they will still be facing 20+ bad guys, severely outnumbered. Finally, if the friendlies are injured inside the house, and they don't attempt the rescue right now, it might become a recovery operation by the time they make it back... There is no good option here, only bad ones and less bad ones...

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  23. AnonymousJune 14, 2013

    This is the key:

    "The Blackwell’s front yard was partly obscured by a large tree in their neighbor’s yard. As the view cleared, a scene of horror came into focus—the shirtless body of a tattooed black man, face down in the middle of the walkway. The front door, with holes kicked into it, set back off its hinges."

    Assuming if the front yard is not fenced in, I would drive both vehicles directly onto the front yard, and use the tree to conceal themselves from the gang's line of sight. They don't even need to turn off the engines because as mentioned above, there is "booming rap music playing, so the sounds of their approach may go unnoticed." Leave Amy behind with a firearm, and instruct her to immediately use one of the walkie-talkies to inform Jack and Tex if anyone from the camp starts to approach the house. This way the group would have established stealth while they continue their search and rescue mission.

    Just my two cents.

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    1. I think this is the best answer that has been given so far.

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  24. I highly doubt that anyone's gonna stage dead bodies in chairs and on mattresses, so the mob is just sleeping off a good drunk most likely.

    Realistically most people aren't going to just haul ass without knowing if their friends are ok so I'd assume they won't either.

    The first thing to look for is the most obvious. Are their vehicles are in the driveway?

    Since you're already at the house I say get in and out quick. If you park the trucks down the way, and someone's already seen you, you could get cut off from them then you have bigger problems. Look down the street and see if its blocked. No sense going back by the mob unless you have no choice.

    Tex should stay with vehicles and keep watch on the mob because Jack has more experience. Since Amy hesitated to use a gun then maybe she should stay too. More eyes to keep watch.

    Call out their names before going through the door. Clear the house quickly and get gone. I wouldn't spend anymore time than I have to there.

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  25. AnonymousJune 14, 2013

    Love the story so far and my only complaint is the time between chapters! I'm dying to know what happened....

    They should back up the trucks and leave them down the block with Tex as a lookout (and at least one vehicle running). Send Amy and Jack back to the house down the alley and backyards to check on the house for their friends. Amy needs to get with the program and get over not wanting to use firearms! Announce themselves at the windows of the house and hopefully their friends are there and OK, there and hurt or gone and left a cryptic note for a new place to meet up. Grab any supplies you can get and carry back to the car and get out as soon as possible. Unless they have a huge hidden stash of canned food or ammunition I wouldn't say it's worth it to bring the truck back to load up. The worst thing to do would be to engage the gang but hopefully the Blackwell's are long gone. Even if they were there during the 'raid' they should be gone now as long as they're not hurt. No time to panic and no time to hesitate, get out of sight of the gang quickly. The whole gang can't be completely passed out even if they don't have a sentry.

    I can't wait to see what's next!

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  26. AnonymousJune 14, 2013

    This would be difficult, because each "signal" or piece of intel can have multiple meanings. The dead guy could be a good sign (meaning they fought back, possibly escaped or hid successfully) or have no meaning other than the gangs fighting each other. The near-by gang's complacency means they feel no threat, but that could either mean they've taken care of the Blackwell's or the Blackwell's fooled them. In any case, the situation isn't good. Either they're dead or taken, or they're hiding in fear for their lives. Hopefully knowing what kind of neighborhood they lived in, they arranged an undetectable safe room (something like the attic), but things are looking grim.

    Amy stays, she won't handle the house very well. One man stays for outside security, and one goes into the house (preferably Jack, with more experience, if only slightly) to check for survivors (or at least supplies, and checking who is and is not there). The gang may be inebriated, or otherwise asleep, but I'd still take precautions. I'm not sure that I'd risk more movement by going around back or down the block, since you're already there.

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  27. AnonymousJune 15, 2013

    Some very good recommendations above, I read several but not all. I think that the Blackwells decided to go to the "ranch". They either forgot the first rendevous or figured it was compromised somehow. Before they left the house they left an indicator to Jack because they figured he would be coming for them but due to the blackout could not reach him with modern technology. Maybe a mark on the door or a word, some kind or predetermined indication that means nothing to the masses, but to Jack and Tex it means we are safe and waiting for you. Jack never has to get out of the vehicle or even get very close, he sees it and calls out to Tex "Jericho", which is the keyword for heading to the ranch. The fact that the vehicles are not in the driveway indicates they are not there. As they were loading up, a neighbor who noticed them bugging out came out to see what was going on and the Blackwells, being the good caring family that they are, offered to take them to the "ranch" with them. Potentially baggage, but something that should be considered, what are the rules? So the neighbor family accompanies the Blackwells to the ranch and is waiting for them there. The dead body and the mass of human flesh at the base of the campfire is not our problem and nor should it be Jack's at this point. SURVIVE!! Now let's go find Kyle and go by Amy's house.

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    1. We'll see! I like the "Jericho" keyword. Might have to steal that :D

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