#Perspectives : Part 1, Chapter Six

The man didn’t have a name, they’d stripped him of that. He was numbered, 276351. They’d branded it into his arm.

“What did they call you? Your family. Friends. What did they call you?”

“Gene.”

“Well, Gene.” I pointed at the windshield of the truck, and the truck took the hint, and displayed a detailed map, made of aerial photographs taken by a lot of drones over the years, of Jackson. “Can you show me where they are?”

Gene looked at the map, then shook his head. “That’s a map?”

I nodded. “It shows all the roads in the area. Can you tell me where to go?”

Again, he shook his head. “I’m sorry.” Gene wanted to help, I could tell that. “I…” He paused a while, embarrassed to continue, so he stared at his hands, helplessly, “can’t read it.”

“It’s OK,” I shrugged. “Lots of people can’t read maps anymore.”

He seemed to take that wrong, “They didn’t let us read any maps. Or anything.”

“Hey. It’s OK.” The truck killed the map display, “We don’t need a map to get there, do we? You know the way, right?” I smiled at Gene. “So, you tell me where to turn, and we’ll worry about maps when this is all over.”

He nodded.

I nodded. “First thing to do, call for reinforcements.”

The truck windshield lit up again, this time with video connections to home base, in what had been Missouri. “Found slavery.”

My friend Misty was on the line. “You’re not alone in that.”

“I take it everybody’s finding it?”

“Nashville, Memphis, Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Savannah, Charleston, Spartanburg, Atlanta.” She sighed.

“Pretty much everywhere.” I sighed.

All Misty did was nod. “You’ll need backup?”

“Yeah.”

She looked at Gene. “Who’s your friend?”

“Gene.” I tapped him on the shoulder, “Gene, meet Misty.”

He bowed his head, so he wouldn’t look at her. “No, no, no. None of that, Gene.” Misty insisted he look at her. “They’re using slave labor to rebuild, aren’t they, Gene?”

He nodded.

“Well, with a bit of help from you, we’re going to make a good start on changing that today.” Misty smiled. “I’ve sent a squad of Furies. They should arrive in half an hour.” I nodded. Misty kept talking to Gene, “And I’ve sent two FreightMasters, and one USS Hope.”

Gene looked confused, so I explained, “That’s twelve unmanned combat aircraft, two cargo aircraft filled with supplies, and one medical aircraft.” He didn’t look so confused. “We’re going to help your friends.” I tapped him on the shoulder again, “And, Gene. This is just the start.”

We drove through Jackson’s remains, we needed to kill the time it took for the Furies to arrive. As we drove, I noticed a few houses had been rebuilt. I pointed at one, “They make the slaves do this?”

He nodded. He didn’t speak, he didn’t need to. I’d seen how they were treated. “Build houses for the white Christians?”

He nodded, his rage barely controlled.

“They killed anyone who couldn’t keep working?”

Gene sat there, silent. I knew they had. Probably people he’d known. Probably people he cared about. People in God’s Army, and the Southern Resistance probably had shot those people in front of him. In front of everybody doing the work. As a message. Work, or die.

I didn’t ask about his family, or his friends, or the community he’d once lived in. I knew better than to ask. I didn’t ask how long he’d been a slave, either. Figured he’d tell me if he wanted to. The drones flew ahead of the truck, scanning the rubble, and the houses.

“I want to kill them all.” I wasn’t surprised when he said that. After all he’d been through, all the things he’d seen, I couldn’t blame him.

“I know.” It was an honest feeling. Hell, I wanted to kill them all. Rid the world of their vile presence. The way they treated anyone who wasn’t like them, wasn’t one of them.

“How many of the bad guys are where we’re heading?”

He shrugged. “Lots.”

“Ten? Twenty?”

“More than I can count.”

“How many people do they keep there?”

“I don’t know.” He wanted to answer, I could tell. “It’s a lot of rooms. All separate. All locked. I can’t count the people in the rooms. I can’t see them.”

“They keep them in separate rooms?” I had to wonder what such a place was like. People. Treated like cattle. Herded into rooms, locked in them.

Gene explained, “The rooms are bare. Nothing in them. Not even bathrooms.”

They really did treat people like animals. Disposable, replaceable cattle. Human beings, people, stripped of all dignity, and rights. My blood boiled. “Well. We’re going to change that place today. Permanently.”

I saw Gene cross his fingers, “I hope so.”

The truck followed his directions, “Left. Right. Straight. That way, Turn,” Not the best instructions, but the truck knew how to figure them out. He guided us to an old mini storage place. Six rows of buildings, all one story, made of cinder blocks, cement, concrete, and steel. No heat, no air conditioning, no water. Nothing. It was a ready made stable for the farm animals, the cattle.

The two drones flew over each row. Sixty storage rooms, some 10 by 10 feet, some 20 by 20 feet. Each room was filled with humans, ten to twenty humans in each. Well over six hundred people were kept like animals in that place.

The drones showed two armed guards at each end of each row of storage rooms. Twenty-four guards, all armed with automatic assault weapons. Two guards walked each row of storage rooms, adding another twelve guards, making thirty-six total.


A small, two story house that had been the office for the storage place had been converted to the headquarters, and the sleeping quarters for the guards. The office had four white women in it. They took orders for bodies needed to perform work. Another set of men and women waited in the rest of the house, until they were needed to fetch bodies, and take them where they were needed. A second house had been built beside the office. This one housed the guards, it was where they slept, ate, rested. Where they lived.

Gene and I waited. But not for long. The truck informed us when the Furies had arrived. “The furies are at ground level, ready for assault.”

“Tell them where the guards are.”

The truck fed the information from the two drones to the Furies. The Furies responded, “Affirmative.” The truck then ordered the drones to provide visual coverage from altitude, so the Furies would know where all the guards were.

“The Furies are taking positions for strafing runs against the guards.” It was heartless, I knew that. Twelve killer robots, able to move at 600 knots less than ten feet off the ground, were in position to mow down 36 humans in less than ten seconds. All I had to do was give the order.

War was like that. Heartless. Ruthless. Cold.

I was tired of it. I wanted it to end. I nodded. “We have three missiles left?”

“Affirmative.”

“Target two at the guard barracks, and one at the first floor of the office. The missile rack on the roof made the appropriate whining, and grinding noises, and I knew the missiles were targeted. There would be nothing but a few splinters of wood, and a few broken bricks left where the two buildings stood.

The truck asked, “Ready?”

“I hate war, you know.”

“I know.”

“You? You were built for it. It’s what you do.”

“I wish I could be repurposed.”

I put my hand on the dash. “If we survive the next few years, I’ll see what I can do.” I really liked my truck. “Maybe we could go see Yellowstone?”

“I’d like that.” My truck sighed. “Let me know when to start this.”

I asked Gene, “Are you ready?”

Gene nodded.

I took one more deep breath, let it out, “Now.”

The truck shook as the three missiles left the rack. They flew for about one second. One struck each end of the guard barracks, which promptly vanished in a brilliant black, orange, and red fireball.

The third missile went through the front door of the office, and then exploded. The first floor ceased to exist, and the second one lifted another ten or so feet into the air as it rode on top the fireball of the missile. The shock wave pushed the bottom of the second floor through the roof of the building. The remains came crashing down, nothing but a pile of splintered wood, and shattered bricks.

At that same instant, the Furies flew down each row of the sheds. One fighter from each direction, they passed each other in the middle. They moved at 600 knots. They fired short bursts from their cannons, which pretty much cut the guards to ribbons. The guards never knew what hit them, never saw the Furies.

And it was over. That quickly. Thirty-six dead guards among the sheds, and an unknown number from the office, and the barracks.

Gene and I moved through the compound. We broke the locks on all the storage rooms. It was easy work for the plasma torch from the back of the truck. That torch could cut through six inch sheet steel. It sliced through the locks on the storage rooms.

Just like that, over 600 people were freed.

I pulled out all the remaining supply kits from the back of the truck. Gene gathered a small group of friends who made sure the former slaves who needed the most help first got that help. And we waited for the FreightMasters, and the USS Hope. It took three hours, but they did arrive.

There were two humans on each of the FreightMasters to help the robots that distributed the supplies. The FreightMasters had four guard robots to protect the supplies, and to protect the people the supplies were for.

There were four humans on the USS Hope, two doctors, and two nurses, to go along with the six automated med-bots. In no time at all, they were tending broken bones, open, infected wounds, and starting the process of getting the appropriate medical care to the people who had been slaves. They were treating those people like real people. Like they deserved to be treated.

With dignity, and respect.

Gene was happy. Everybody was happy.

Misty called me on the truck video, “You’ve been ordered back.”

I stayed there through the night, to help as much as I could. I recorded stories from the freed people. Stories of the things they’d seen. The killing fields. The cleansing of the population. The enslavement of anyone who wasn’t a white Christian.

That night, in my truck, I asked, “This war won’t ever end, will it?”

“It will,” the truck responded, “When there’s been enough blood.”

“When will there be enough blood?”

The truck paused, “Hopefully, before there’s no one left.”

That’s what we were really afraid of. That the only way to stop the fighting was to kill every last person who supported God’s Army, or the Southern Resistance. To literally have no option other than to kill them all.

“Time will tell, won’t it.”

As the sun rose the next morning, I said goodbye to Gene, and got in my truck. We headed north, back toward what had once been Missouri. My truck reported reported the armor was at 86% effective, and the drones were fully functional. I leaned the seat back, and took a nap. It was a long ride to Missouri. A long ride home.

End Of Part 1.

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