Cayo Elina 44

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George found them in the cafeteria six hours later surrounded by military personal. Elina’s mood still hadn’t improved. “What’s wrong with her?” George whispered when Elina stepped away to fill her canteen.

“She found out we’ve been the executioner-in-chief for both the Cubans and the zombies.”

“What?”

“It seems our zombie friends have been sending any political dissidents down to the cay to take us out and we suspect the Cubans were doing the same thing. So…she’s a bit upset.” Gus said.

“Oh.” George shook his head, “So they made you into the nightmares you all are, huh? What’s the problem? Seems to me you owe them a debt of gratitude for making you stronger.”

Gus just stared at George for a moment before slowly shaking his head and saying in a low, feral voice, “For a man who doesn’t want to gas the living portions of humanity you seem to have a poor understanding of the number of people who have died over the months under these constant assaults..”

George stepped back from Gus, “Whoa, no offense. You’re right, I spoke without thinking about it. I’m sorry.”

“Just be glad it was me, not her.” Gus said nodding as Elina came back to join them, “She probably wouldn’t have reacted so passively.”

“Reacted to what?” Elina asked.

“My big mouth. Sorry.” George said.

“For what?”

“For what I said.”

“You haven’t said anything!”

Gus interjected, “It was nothing, he spoke out of turn, no big deal. How’s the Feist?”

“They think they will be able to make repairs and get underway in 48 hours.” George said.

“So you good to go on another trip?”

“Orders came down to ferry you to the Key, just a hop and drop. Then…I don’t know.”

“Are the Cubans upping their offensive?” Elina asked. She and Gus had been hearing gunfire all day.

“I’ve been in the air all day, I don’t know.” George said.

“C’mon, we know how it works, what have you heard?”

George leaned close, “We’re gonna lose the north bridge.”

“Will Perry blow it?” Gus asked.

With a shake of his head George said, “No, he won’t, but he thinks if we bring the battle back to it, the Cubans will.”

“Why won’t he just blow the damned thing?” Elina asked.

George sat down at the table next to Gus, after a moment Elina sat down beside him. Taking a sip out of his canteen, George nodded and said, “It was a good flight, no one fired missiles at me.”

Elina looked puzzled, but Gus put his hand on her arm and nodded towards the other marines and sailors around them. It wasn’t overt, but the crowd seemed to be quieter, as if listening in. “Alban’s taken a turn for the worse, he has two broken legs, several ribs, a punctured lung and a broken collarbone. No broken arms, but one of the legs was compound and looks like it might be infected.”

“That’s rough. The Germans won’t like it if he dies, he’s their chief mechanic.” George said, relaxing slightly.

“Who’s doing the repairs if their head guy is with us?” asked Gus.

“Don’t know, I gathered that they cross train a lot and the repairs are in good hands. I guess you’ll know in…” George checked his watch, “55 hours.”

“That’s when they reach the island?” Elina asked.

“Supposed to, yeah.”

“What are you going to do meantime?” Gus asked.

“Come back here, do my job.” George answered staring straight into Gus’s eyes.

Gus nodded, “Yeah, we’ve all gotta do what we gotta do.”

“So, why won’t he blow the bridge?” George asked rhetorically, leaning into them and speaking softer, “Because it doesn’t matter, that’s my guess. The Cuban have three dozen of their little ships off the coast, the bridge is moot at this point they can land anywhere they want. And we don’t have any D-day defenses set up, like in ‘Saving Private Ryan’, so we can’t defend the coast. It’s gonna get brutal, down to house the house fighting and unless something happens quick we stand a good chance of losing the coast, losing the city, losing the Boone. The smaller craft can go upstream, but the rivers here turn into swamp pretty damn fast so they can only go so far.”

“How much time do they have?” Gus asked.

George gave him a peculiar look, “Can’t you tell?”

Gus shook his head, “Can, but won’t, peeking ahead is like staring into a hurricane right now, there are too many variables, even if I try to stay focused.”

“Bullshit.”

Shrugging his shoulders Gus said unapologetically, “Think what you want, it’s all I can do to hold it together right now. I’m afraid if I go looking ahead one more time I might not come back.”

“That can happen?”

“I don’t know, let me go look it up in my prescience book.” Gus said with a smile, “Every time I go forward I want to stay longer, look at different options; I might get lost, then what good would I be?”

With a sigh George said, “Fine. So, back to how long we have; not long enough, we don’t have enough men, unless the militia steps up, to hold them back, we could lose everything in a day.” George raised his hands up defensively, “But I’m not the commander, that’s just the scuttlebutt.”

“That’s not good. Can’t Perry do anything?” Elina asked.

“He is, the Boone is armed and ready, he’s building a layered defense around the base. It’s not a fortress, but he is blocking off some streets and forming fields of fire along some channels to hurt them as badly as possible before they can get to the ships. Plus he has a few 30mm cannons and the Boone has some armaments of her own, way overkill for fighting troops on the ground, but he’ll use them. I saw a lot of that when I landed. Those marines have been busy.”

“Will the militia step up?” Gus asked.

“I remember studying militias when I was in class to become a pilot. It was more for watching out because every third one of the motherfuckers have an RPG to fire up your ass when you’re low to the ground, but I remember reading that they tended to wither under continuous pressure. The good news is they get stronger with each engagement and eventually can turn into a well-oiled machine that can be quite an asset. But that takes time. So my bet is they are good for one combat, then they will fold and run for the swamps.”

“These are Americans here.” Gus said, “We founded this country with civilian militias.”

George shrugged, “Read up on the early battles, a handful of British soldiers did pretty damned good against our ‘civilian militias’ until our troops gained a little experience. The revolution was a near thing; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If the British Empire hadn’t been so involved in other wars around the world we might still be having tea time instead of taking coffee breaks.”

“I should have studied harder in grade school.” Gus said, “So did you hear anything good?”

“Yeah.” George said with a smile, “The Feist will be setting sail in 47 hours, picking up a group of well honed, veteran militia off our secret training ground to the south and bring them up here to land on Miami beach in 60 hours or so.”

“When do we leave?” Elina asked.

George glanced at his watch again and said, “They should be finished refueling the copter now. So…now.”

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