Beamo’s Gold part 32
Beamo and the Sawbird Gang get ambushed.
At first light Tee and Major Kaim rousted their riders. After a quick breakfast we set out. I led them down and up a wide, winding, well-worn dirt road that veered close to the seven-hundred-feet drop into the Cursed River gorge. Sunny with no wind, at least it was cool. The vegetation we cruised by was mostly sagebrush and greasewood.
About thirty miles along, I rounded a bend and noticed a ground squirrel eating some bloody-pulp dead thing in the middle of the road. Put my fist up to halt us then rolled up to the rodent. It ran off and I saw it had been chewing on another ground squirrel, probably its relative, run over by a cycle tire.
Bonehead read the tire tracks around us and called out before I could say anything. He took off, led us up onto the slight elevation of a jagged mesa top filled with crags and a few boulders, the best high ground with cover but still poor.
Just a minute later the chopper engines roared. At least a hundred and forty Mutant Angels came at us from their ambush positions with their own dust cloud for cover. We shot at them but they didn’t take many hits and calmly spread out to surround us. The MA picked out different first-rate firing spots. When they opened up it was just another few minutes and half our party was sprawled out badly wounded or dead.
I watched as Joro tried to drag Smooth’s limp body behind a few big rocks. He had been shot through the breadbasket himself and his brother Khoro was desperately shooting to give him cover. Then a fifty-cal machine gun opened up and chewed Smooth’s lower half off before Joro could pull her completely behind a rock.
Little Bit lying on her side next to me started point-shooting her two forty-cal pistols downhill at two MA slinking no more than ten yards away. They both rolled headshot dead out of the thick saltbrush.
My steady-beat battle music building inside my mind, a song called Hair of the Dog. I was flat on my back waiting to rise up and take another quick shot when the Mutant Angels quit firing. I knew that was bad because it meant they were going to eat their peyote buttons and then come at us as all-out berserkers after their demon-calling ceremony and the effects of that hardcore drug kicked in. Maybe give us twenty minutes.
“Beamo,” Tee threw his voice over my direction. “Did you see what set these MA are?”
“Leftovers of the same Two-Fifty that’s been on our asses this whole jaunt.” I knew they were the same by the cone shape of their heads and the black and scarlet wraps around their faces.
“They’re not supposed to be here,” Major Kaim’s voice drifted over from his hiding place.
“They weren’t supposed to be on the west bank of the Big River right across from Goofy Ridge in broad daylight, either,” I answered back. “The Dezret Saints lost the war, remember? These bastards are going to be in all kinds of places they’re not supposed to be from now on.”
A little pause and then Tee said, “Beamo, are you with us? Really with us?”
“Yes.” I said back. Little Bit put her hand on my arm and squeezed. She set off, crawling low to go treat Joro and then the other wounded she could get to.
“We need to break out. Savvy, scout? You see any way?”
I poked my head up several times and scanned the terrain. “Might be a way. We have to use all the guile we got. Poor chance to none, but the best I can think of.”
“Spill what you need done,” Tee said.
“Have Bonehead shoot a few smoke grenades towards their fifty-cal and then lob all the rest behind us. Make ‘em think we’re slipping out that way to skirt the ridge of the gorge. I need Bonehead’s ghillie suit and a partner. Who has the best throwing arm?”
“Ious throws best.” Hidden Khoro joined the versation.
“Pass all the hand grenades to Khoro. All of them. He follows me while I work up to their big machine gun. We go out their front door.”
“No, that ain’t right,” Hopper chimed in. “Even if wese busts through, hems catchus fast on tha road!”
“I have a trap for them on the road if I get time to set it. Little Bit’s seen my strong nano-tech wire work. If I get it across the road, their swords mounted on the front of their cycles won’t cut it and they’ll go down. We’ll shoot these skull-faces like rabid raccoons.”
“No, it ain’t right!” Hopper snapped. “Wese hit hems hard three times, now it’s hem’s turn. Hems got us. Only to-do is kill as many as wese can here. Go out hard soas wese get membered.”
“Enough of the superstition, Hopper! Bonehead, give him your ghillie suit. Everyone pass their hand grenades to Khoro.” Tee’s voice held the authority. He really was a natural at command.
Bonehead worked around to my spot. He handed me his ghillie suit. I slipped it on and then started pushing leaves and branches into it. Bonehead passed his face camo paint then held out some little dried shrooms.
Bonehead’s mouth spouted out: “The Book says the children of the Almighty, male and fe-male, shall eat bitter herbs and prophisize!”
“Tee, you hear what this knucklehead is trying to push? We need to keep our heads, not get squished brains on this shroom shi.”
“No, Beamo, these shrooms work. You see things with it you can’t otherwise; it’ll give you an edge.” Tee’s voice saying that surprised me. Wayback before our militia service we agreed that to stay professional during battle you had to keep your head and not get doped up on stimulants or any other drugs.
“Are you serious, Tee?” I had just about finished my camouflage, was now sticking leafy brush branches into my flapcap.
“It worked when you were leading the militia chasing us last year. We knew where you were every time.”
After Tee said that I gave in and downed the shrooms. All the other outlaws I could see were downing shrooms too. I took a long draught of water from my canteen, finished it, and was ready to fight.
Five minutes later Khoro, wearing his makeshift ghillie suit with thorny branches sticking out, worked up to my position. He sported a serious look on his dark face and flashed seventeen with his fingers. Seventeen grenades. I nodded at Bonehead. He shot off two yellow smoke grenades with his grenade launcher mounted under his rifle, first aiming towards their heavy machine gun then he turned and started lobbing orange smoke grenades far behind us.
I would have liked one or two more to the front to better cover us. Left my rifle and started working my way to the edge of the mesa. Slipped down into a big erosion rut then edged into a smaller one. Khoro followed me about ten feet behind. Took my time. Edged on my left side just a few inches a minute at first. Behind us Bonehead’s voice kept repeating, “The children shall eat bitter herbs and prophisize! The children shall eat bitter herbs and prophisize!”
Sporadic shooting broke out again, I could feel the MA moving to back-up their sixty or so foot soldiers positioned behind us. I began to feel like I was standing up, my legs growing under me higher and higher until I was lofty as a hundred-feet-tall tower. Looked down and saw clearly the dozens and dozens of Mutant Angel positions all around us.
When I returned to the ground from being the human tower, I crawled towards the closest pair of freak-faces. They were already bobbing their sketchy heads, their glazed eyes and drooling mouths showing they were ready for a frontal assault into the heart of us. I sidled up and plunged my sharp-as-razor Bowie blade into the right temple of the first one when he too late turned his face and spotted me. I pinned his head to the ground. His partner swung his rifle over to shoot me, but I had the barrel of my forty-cal pistol in my left hand aimed at his mouth. I blasted out the back of his skull before he could squeeze the trigger. Fast shooting broke out from all sides.
I pointed back at Khoro. Flashed the direction and number of hand grenades I wanted thrown. He knew where their positions where from the shrooms too. He had to rise up awkwardly on one arm, threw each one precisely to the location and in the order I wanted. Plosions went off and we moved ahead. Visited the mangled pairs of MA in our way and I made sure each one was put down.
Dozens ran right by us, screaming in a frenzy of bloodlust, storming headlong when the sparse cover ran out. The outlaws and goons put precise shots into them but they kept screaming and many took a dozen hits before going down. The MA were firing rocket propelled grenades now and one massive plosion took out our tri-cycle with the supplies, but gave me an opening to go farther.
We made it to the edge of the road behind their lines. Here Khoro felt safe enough to get up on his knees. He started throwing at farther targets as I directed. I managed a fast crawl across the road and got behind a pillow-sized rock with one of their R-rifles. Bonehead lobbed one more smoke grenade and it almost hit me. It was well timed and placed though. I rose up, came out of the edge of the yellow smoke and emptied three thirty round R-rifle mags into the backs of the eight skull-faces lining the road shooting at the outlaws. A little farther up the road, ringing their atvee with the fifty-cal, were three of their primo berserkers that I mostly missed. The boss MA firing swung the big gun around. Khoro lobbed his last genade precisely into their midst and took out the berserkers.
Through the choking smoke I charged across the road to the atvee, jumped onto it. The shrapnel-wounded boss skull-face started firing before he got his aim and then he was looking down on his two stumps where his arms were a second ago. I kicked the armless Mutant Angel off the vehicle and sheathed my bloody Bowie knife. Took up the big gun, started firing close-up and then went after farther-off MA positions. Khoro picked up one of their R-rifles and did a smart thing by blasted away on their parked choppers as well. Most of the MA scrambled to get to new firing positions but twelve or thirteen stood up and came right at us. Even their peyote-addled bodies couldn’t withstand those big bullets. I sent them to their Demon World with their own fifty-cal.
Finished taking out any Mutant Angels willing to fight then used one of their grenades to spike the fifty-cal. Through occasional gunfire, me and Khoro sprinted back to the outlaws and goons. Found my rifle and then got to my cycle. The MA were regrouping already and we had to move fast.
Hopper, now flashing wild, ferocious eyes, was going around with his ax chopping up our own dead and badly wounded soas the Mutant Angels would not be able to collect the complete skin off of any Sawbird Gang member. The tall man himself wounded in the leg, Hopper hobbled over to Clip who was lying next to headless Big Beast and the wrecked tri-cycle.
Clip begged while blood spewed out of his mouth from a chest wound. “Hopper don’t chop me up! Ious’ll hold on and take more wit me! Hems ain’t gonna get ma skin, Ious promise!” He clutched a grenade he had held out on handing over to Khoro.
Still wild-eyed, Hopper chopped up Big Beast’s body but left Clip alive then moved on to Khoro and Joro. Blond-headed Joro showed maximum rage in his green eyes at Smooth’s demise as well as his getting gut-shot. He sat upright, white linen bandage across his belly. His dark-skinned twin brother Khoro lifted him up to his feet.
Khoro pulled his pistol and aimed it at Hopper’s heart. “Hims ain’t ready yet, Hopper-man.”
“We ride!” Tee called out.
Major Kaim and his two goons were already speeding away. I waited a few seconds on Little Bit and then we tore out. We stayed behind Khoro and Joro, both now riding on Khoro’s bike. Other outlaws one by one passed us.
When we got to the bend two or three miles up the road, I stopped. Little Bit halted a dozen yards ahead and then the others noticed. It didn’t look ideal but it would have to do. Took the spool of my nano-tech wire and wound it around an odd boulder with a skinny projection that ended in a bulge. Did the same to the other side on a dead tree trunk. The line from the tree across the road was slanted down from six-and-a-half to four-and-a-half feet towards the skinny boulder projection. Close-by was the gorge with its seven-hundred-feet drop.
Without any speaking, the Sawbird Gang took up firing positions uphill among the boulders and stunted trees. Kaim and his two goons came back and took up positions behind them. The plosion from Clip’s grenade went off. Seventy to eighty chopper engines sounded. Screaming rage and peyote-infused perplexity, combined with the roaring engines, the skull-faces came on up the road after us.
The first two were MA scouts on crotch-rockets. Very first hit the wire and flipped end over end. The other one next to him got beheaded a split-second later. His body kept riding; dual jets of blood pushed back by the wind. The body drove itself out of sight, which was good because it baited the first dozen Mutant Angels to follow at full speed. The nano-tech wire broke the swords mounted in front of their choppers just like the scout cycles and a pile-up began.
Some MA veered off at seventy-miles-an-hour or more and plunged straight off into the gorge. A few of their top riders managed to lay their choppers down before the abyss but now the eleven leftovers of our party who could shoot opened up on them with our Aks. The ones that could turn sped off back the way they came. They left more than twenty behind. The ones badly wounded Bo-Rat and Bonehead finished off by running them over with their cycles. They made a sport of it, did trick jumps landing on the shot-up Mutant Angels with their rear tires, busting their pointy-heads open like rotted squash.
I ran out and managed to retrieve my nano-tech wire. Then we all set off to the northwest. We were out of water. After that battle we all traveled with a serious thirst. A few hours later the hazy Blue Mountains appeared ahead. We finally found a stream and pulled over. Now I had to warn them about nuuk poison drifting down with the breeze coming off the dead Pacyfic a few hundred miles west. No time to linger. Instead of sheathing it, I hid my famous Bowie knife inside a secret pouch in my leather coat then started off northwest again. We had to push on to get to the shelter of the Highsters.