The GPS signal told me I was approaching what was once Jackson, Mississippi. For giggles, I asked the network, “What was Jackson, Mississippi like?”
Turned out it was the capital of the state of Mississippi. The network showed virtual images of the city, shopping areas, the city arena, the arts center. It had been a stronghold of the Southern Resistance, and God’s Army.
“So, I’m heading into a land I’m hated.” I signed, “What else is new.”
As my truck headed east toward Jackson on what was left of Interstate 20, I checked all the arms and safety systems. The two drones in the truck bed reported they were fully operational. The roof mounted missile rack reported it was fully operational. The sensors in the metal foam armor reported the armor was 99.9% intact from the damage done to it in the skirmish I’d passed through a few hours ago.
I checked the shredder rounds for my two assault guns, and my two handguns. The guns and their rounds were ready. I verified the cartridge change mechanisms on all four were functioning, and I had 16 fully loaded cartridges ready to go, attached to the ammo belts on my armor.
My armor itself reported it was 100% functional, and ready to protect me from all forms of gunfire.
The truck stopped on a hill just west of Jackson, and the transport system asked, “Are you ready?”
I was on a simple mission. Reconnaissance. Supplement the information the airborne drones had collected in the past month with human visual information.
“Open.” The door of my truck opened, and I stepped out. The truck reported no abnormal heat sources in the area, so I felt reasonably safe. Or as safe as a hated Yankee could be in the deep south. I scanned the horizon. The remains of a few buildings were visible to the east north east. A few scattered, burned out houses were visible along the sides of the interstate. What looked like a blown up Walmart shopping center was visible about a mile down the road.
I stood there, and thought about what I was doing. “Why do I do this? Why do I come here, to the South? Why do I risk my life like this?” The hills, and what few remaining trees I could see looked good enough. I suspected it would have been a pretty place at one point.
The truck flashed its lights to signal me it was time to move. The time in the top right of the visual enhancement system said, “0947 hours EDT, 08 May 2054”. It was six months, three weeks, twenty-seven days since the total defeat of the Southern Resistance and God’s Army. We’d kept the door open for peace talks for three years. We hadn’t even asked for unconditional surrender. All we’d asked for was them to abolish their slavery system, and halt their genocide of homosexuals and transgender people. That’s all we’d asked. We were tired of the war. Tired of the killing. Tired of the blood.
They refused. They insisted on fighting to the end. “We will never surrender in our fight for God’s ways!”
I got in the truck, “Launch drone one. I want it ten miles ahead of us.” The truck shuddered as the drone came to life, it’s solar powered engines lifted it from the truck bed, and it sped along the highway, 20 feet above the ground. The drone’s visuals displayed on one of the truck monitors. “Drone one reports no signs of human activity.”
The truck resumed its eastward journey. I recognized the bomb craters on either side of the road. “Look like penetrator rounds.”
The truck confirmed, “Drone aircraft armada passed overhead for thirty days, dropped 25 pound penetrator rounds on everything.” I could imagine the terror. The horror. A thousand aircraft, filling the sky, moving at just shy of the speed of sound, less than 100 feet off the ground.
As the passed over houses, shopping centers, gas stations, or any other buildings, the penetrators would have launched. Straight down. Penetrators contained very high explosive rounds. They didn’t explode on impact. They were rocket propelled, a small solid booster slammed them into the roof of a building. They went right through. The visual sensors on them detected when they were inside the structure, then they exploded.
Imagine six, or twelve, or more, 25 pound fuel air bombs going off inside a four bedroom house. That’s what penetrators did.
We had no choice. The Southern Resistance and God’s Army soldiers hid inside people’s houses. The people sheltered them, protected them. Everyone was certain we wouldn’t inflict collateral damage, civilian damage. We were more civil than that.
But after seven years of war, and three years of peace offers, we had no choice. If we’d have let it, the war would have continued for decades. Maybe it would have never ended. So, we’d sent in the penetrators.
Not hundreds. Not thousands.
The Southern part of the continent had been depopulated. All it’s population centers had been wiped out. The penetrator attacks kept going. We sent the drones again, and again, and again. For thirty days, and thirty nights.
On the thirty-first day, we’d sent recon drones. Thousands of them. We’d repositioned our satellites. We’d sent manned F-44s on flyovers. We’d analyzed the pictures, studied them, torn them apart. Then, we’d sent in the ground troops. Mostly automated, each soldier controlled a dozen ground drones. They’d gone into the countryside, and looked for pockets of resistance.
It took two years to clean things up.
No one will ever know the total body count.
We weren’t the United States of America anymore. We were just America. No states. No boundaries. One single country. The civil war was over. A big “L” shaped chunk of the country was a bombed out, burned out wasteland. Now, we were trying to clean it up. Now, we were learning what we were dealing with, and what it would take to rebuild our country.
God’s Army and the Southern Resistance had wanted to cleanse the country of its evils.
Well. I don’t think they’d ever thought of themselves at the evil parts of the country that needed to be cleansed. That’s how it had worked out, though.
I told the truck, “Keep me posted. Let me know if drone one spots anything alive.”
“Jackson. I’ve never been to Jackson.” It was going to be a long day.