“In 197 BCE, a Macedonian Phalanx was being opposed by a Roman Legion. They had twenty-foot spikes which served to kill when held parallel to the ground, and could deflect air-born projectiles when held at forty-five degrees. However, the soldiers wielding them could not change directions unless the spikes were held straight up. So Flaminius changed the rules of battle, and attached the Macedonians from the rear.”
The Troughtons looked down over the overpass of the intersection of 25 (Gordon Highway) and 56 (Doug Barnyard Parkway) onto the colonel and the 74th Cavalry below. The colonel stood head and shoulders above the rest of his soldiers but wasn’t on any type of platform. His broad shoulders and tight ass were made prominent by his khaki uniform. Muscular thighs and arms – the kind that came from hard work, not just nights at the gym – put him at about two-hundred twenty pounds.
“Where are their horses?” Pizzaboy asked.
Jailbird pointed, “Bikes. Two Harleys, an Indian, a Kawasaki, and a couple of custom jobs by the look of them.”
“Mechmon fodder,” Smartboard growled.
The colonel tilted his head and listened to a messenger, who spoke excitedly and pointed onto the overpass where the Troughtons had gathered. The colonel shook his head. “We regroup, get behind this CE, find its weakest patch.”
Jerry kissed his wife and hugged Hunter. “Let’s go sting them where it hurts.”
Chrissy cupped her hands over her mouth and bellowed, “Hey, History Channel, watch this!”
They began running and chanting, “Troughton Company is here. Mechmons best be a’feared!”
The colonel held up his hand and his troops watched in trepidation as ten civilians ran toward the city-eater. They climbed onto the front left corner unmolested.
The pairs worked with speed and agility, calling out to each other encouragements and accomplishments.
“One-Left, done!” Jailbird shouted. He and Angel ran to the back corner.
“Two-Left, done!” Jerry grabbed Chrissy and dashed to the backside.
It continued with precise timing. A line became a chevron, then a Y and finally a massive X began to appear on top of the CE.
“Twelve-Right, done!” was shouted at the same time as “Six-Right, done.”
The four pairs were scrambling down the east side of the CE just as Jailbird shouted, “One-Right, done!”
They ran, out-pacing the slow creature and jumped back on top of the overpass just as the CE chugged. It shivered and the Troughtons cheered. It began flailing its nozzles about and the individual mechmons gleaning its path returned to its side. The 74th rose in a frenzy of cheers.
The CE stopped. It didn’t die, but it couldn’t move.
“Private,” the colonel called the messenger over. “Go to Troughton Company and give them my compliments. Ask them to parley.”
Colonel Peter Glynn watched as the Troughtons kissed and hugged each other. Two of them – a fat, pot-bellied man in his fifties and a chubby man in his thirties mooned the disabled CE. Some members of the 74th did the same. He observed the private deliver his message to the bearded man holding onto the red-haired woman and blond teen. Jerry Troughton – Glynn presumed – a legend in these parts – noted for guerilla attacks on mechmons – successful ones – shook his head and raised his hand. His company stilled and listened to him. He pointed northwest, toward the middle CE.
A plump woman in her forties and three children pulled the tarp off a shopping cart they had brought with them. Glynn watched as the Troughtons grabbed five stakes and a satchel and a funnel.
The private arrived out of breath. “Troughton Company sends their regards, Colonel. They respectfully decline your invitation but counter with an offer of their own.”
“They request ten of us to join them in the next assault.”
Another messenger – a corporal interrupted. “The middle CE stopped dead and has begun moving southeast, straight at the disabled CE.”
“Straight at us.”
“Yes, sir. Should be here in three hours or less.”
The tall woman saluted.
“Gather eight of your best men. Make damn sure Mickey’s one of them. Mount up! We’ve been invited to repeat what we’ve just seen done.”
“Yes, sir!” She quickly assembled her team. They rode up onto the overpass within fifteen minutes; two hours and forty five minutes to spare.
Jerry met the colonel with a handshake. “Welcome, Colonel. We thought you might like to go with us on the next volley. Depending on how well you do on the second, we might just let you take the third one out yourselves.”
“The third one is twenty-four miles away.” Major countered. “Six hours at best but going due south.”
“Mechmons are attracted to the biggest mass of metal. Right now,” Hunter pointed at the CE. “That’s it.”
Chrissy handed Hunter a bottle of water. “When we take out the second one, the third one will head this way, too. They’ll have to stop and go directly east and then stop again and trace their first one’s path.”
“They can’t shift diagonally,” Hunter added.
“We are quite aware of how CEs move,” the major growled.
Jeannie stepped up. “There’s enough metal in those bikes to attract the feeder mechs. Get them out of here.”
Jerry supported Mrs. Hicks. “We have children here. We know what we’re doing. Trust me. Take the bikes away. If you’re to do this, you can’t have any metal on you. No zippers, no steel-toed boots, no braces even. We can crawl all over these mechmons, roadsters, and City-eaters without raising their alarm – but only as long as we have no metal.”
“Empty your pockets, too.” Chrissy added. “You’ve heard loose lips sink ships? Well, loose change, lose your hips.”
“That’s a little harsh,” Jerry whispered to his wife.
Glynn nodded at the major, “Make it so.” He bent down and unlaced his boots.
“I’m sorry, colonel,” Chrissy spoke gently. “You’ll have to take off your wedding ring, too.”
He looked down at her five foot three frame from his six foot four height and deep sorrow forced its way into his rugged features. He shoved the emotion back and away and yanked off his ring.
© Evelyn Rainey
Available for publication.