Friday, May 15, 2015

Lord of the Arena-07

150 miles up I-35 to Duluth should be an easy three-hour drive. Go in a group that looks like it can handle bandits and you'll be fine. That's the routine; even the State Patrol and National Guard do that. The nightly road wrap-up and forecast routinely displays the corpses of fools who didn't alongside the stripped wrecks of their cars.

It was nothing that Eric didn't know well, on both sides. Rare is the arena champion who didn't arise out of the vicious road warrior subculture, and Eric spent plenty of time dealing with and in latter-day banditry. Now, as he and his crew pass through the outer wall of the Twin Cities and go north on I-35, he sat in his road car--which, in turn, sat in one of the rigs in a quick-deploy bay--as he fully expect some fools to come at him to see if he's still hard enough for the open road.

It did not help that his killing of Manhattan Matt the night before put a $10 million bounty on his head by the gangsters and other outraged fans who supported Matt in his own career- and not just by buying his stuff. Extra-legal and quasi-legal actions were common place now, and no one in government gave a shit about anything beyond the reach of their enforcers' guns; people were on their own.

"The first wave will come after we leave the limits of the Cities' guns, around the point where line of sight of that point is lost." Eric said, quietly, as he examined the radar. His man thought likewise; the caravan went to General Quarters, and staff zipped up their armor as they strapped into their positions. Helmets snapped shut, and the veterans double-checked their personal weapons should boarding be necessary.

"Contact, quarter-mile ahead." came over the intercom.

"The second group will close in from the rear in 30 seconds, with whomever remains deploying on our side once we break through."

The front and rear rig in the caravan sported salvaged and rebuilt main guns taken from Abrams tanks, mounted along the spines of the trailers; the front rig fired at the barracade of bandit trucks and vans blocking the road, hitting the middle van with its side panel open. The anti-tank guns' exploded, popping the van like an over-pressured pimple and sending shrapnel across their ranks. As Eric expected, a second group came down from a frontage road and formed up on their rear. The rear rig fired its rear-facing gun at the trunk forming the point of their formation, exploding it into so much confetti; smoke followed, covering mines dropped in their wake and eliminating the group entirely by mobility kills. The lead rig's tractor opened fire with its shorter-range machineguns and cut down the roadblock's wings. The caravan easily burst through and kept on going.

"The second wave will abandon the usual toll-based tactics and bring their better fighters to bear." Eric said, and he got on the intercom, "All auxiliaries prepare to deploy."

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