Voyage of the Colonel Darvish

Diego heads home

Diego thinks his observations have come to a conclusion. Inside that cemetery is a well equipped organisation of which Delores belongs to, possible an emissary of. Further observation will not bring about any other information except maybe who comes and goes regularly.

“Sam I don’t think there is anything more for us to see,” Diego says as the twilight fades. “Let’s get back to the bike and return to headquarters. This weekend I’m thinking about getting back over here and canvassing this neighborhood for rumors. We’ll have all day and can pose in the markets as shoppers. Probably stay the night, I’m actually thinking of hiking that mountain again and taking a real look at those radio towers.”

Diego and Sam see little traffic as they wander back to the bike. The moon is not yet up but will be waning, but still at 3/4 providing good light. It is 10 pm by the time they get to the bike. The moon is not visible, but the clouds are thin spreading the moonlight and giving them good visibility on the ride home.

Smoker's Cough
night at the home

White sails billow in the wind as waves slap the bow of a Napoleonic era
frigate. Seagulls wheel and screech about the rigging as the Captain’s hands
spin the wooden wheel…Those hands were Jose’s hands, it is he who spin the
wheel as crew about him bark orders and replies and scurry about like ants upon
the frigate’s deck, the deck morphs and shifts, turning blue as the sailors do
in fact turn into some sort of crustacean ant hybrid as the ship started to
shake as if a giant quake was shaking the sea.

Jose’s eyes open, it was a dream, Levi was shaking him awake. Jose was about to
speak then saw Levi’s hand close to his face, ready to clap Jose’s mouth shut.
Levi was shaking his head and “sshhhhhh” came out of his mouth. Levi had his
M16 by the pistol grip in his right hand and spoke quietly while holding up 3
fingers “3 outside,” he whispered, then he pointed over his shoulder.

Levi had been watching out the window when three figures appeared out of the mist in the street. They turned when near the house and moved to the porch. Levi could only make out that they were in ponchos and didn’t have any visible weapons, just dark vague shapes, but clear enough he knew they were men. When they moved out of his view beneath the overhang of the porch he moved back to Jose and cautiously shook him awake.

Levi points at Jose then points at the top of the stairs and holds his finger to his lips. Jose is smart enough to get move to the top of the stairs quietly out of these simple hand gestures and nods moving his HK33 into his lap. Levi spins and moves back to the front window.

From Levi’s vantage point he sees a flicker of light on the porch, a match. The men appeared to be lighting up cigarettes and taking shelter from the rain under the porch roof. He glanced back to make sure Jose had moved, then stuck his head as far out the window as he dared to try and hear the men’s voices.

A few words hear and there but they were speaking in low tones, just mumbled speech reached Levi’s ears. He settled back not wanting to silhouette himself in the window, waiting and hoping the men would finish their smoke and leave.

Go Climb a Hill
Diego decides to look down

Diego and Sam walked along the road close to the cemetery, taking long looks
inside the grounds as they made their way toward the mountain. Sparse traffic,
a few bicycles and traders carrying packs walked past them and some intelligence
was gained from the walk. They got a much better look at the guards. Youngish
men and women, all in a variety of mixed gear, some civilian some military.
Most were carrying a rifle and most of those rifles were M16 looking military
weapons. They all had tan bands painted around the fore stock and butt stock.
Probably indicating that they came from some kind of weapon “pool”

This group had access to military style weapons. Not that everyone in America
didn’t have access to weapons like these before the war, but one of two things
could be gathered by this. The group was organised BEFORE the war, acquiring
these as an anticipation. Or they acquired them AFTER the war by finding a
military stockpile or heavy trading with someone with access to them. The
guards weren’t particularly studious in their duty. It looked like the security
of the inner building was the main focus, with the guards on the periphery just
to keep people from wandering around their territory. Sneaking to the building
would be fairly easy to avoid the guards.

As they walked the perimeter they saw several groups and people come and go. A
wagon or person would stop at the gate and be questioned by the guards. One
guard would leave the entrance walking with the wagon or person, while another
would leave the main building walking toward the two. When both met halfway,
the building guard would continue with the wagon or person, while the entrance
guard would return to the entrance. They saw a few individuals leave the main building as well, moving off the grounds into the surrounding neighborhood.

After they left the cracked pavement of Lawndale boulevard, they moved back into
an area that stared to look more rural. An old farm road, would be their
next means of travel. Gravel crunched underfoot. After a few minutes an old
collapsed farmstead was seen to the left of their trail. They were cautious,
but the place was weed grown and mostly collapsed.

The road ended among many a tree stump. Probably once a tree farm, now all
gone, taken by the inhabitants for fuel. They began to climb into the San Bruno
Mountain State Park. The scrub tugged at their clothes but the grade was
shallow and there were several trails that they were able to move around denser

Halfway up the hill Diego felt there was a good vantage point. The sun was just
setting, as Diego found a rotten tree trunk felled long ago to hunker down
behind. They could get a good long look at the cemetery from here. It
is about 1,000 meters away from the main building in the cemetery.

Scanning the roof of the main building they get a good feel for how secure the
building is. There are only a few doors, the main enterence and 2 rear access
doors. There is a roll up gargage door in the rear as well, on a loading dock.

They have previously seen 2 guards out front there appear to be two guard back
here as well. The building itiself is a monolith of stone and granite, with
small windows that have been secured with bars. You have been unable to see
anything inside as they appear to be curtained and shuttered.

Atop the roof are reinforced fighting positions. They are not manned but
sandbagged areas over the front enterence and on the corners indicate that a
force could use this roof as a fighting position to repel attackers.

The radio towers were still quite a hike up the mountain.

They decided to return before it got too dark. By the time they had gotten down
to the boulevard again it was long past dusk.

Home Secure Home
Levi and Jose ready to bed down

Jose was back within an hour, he was basically not missed as all boats came back. He thought about dereliction of duty, then realized his true duty was to his family. The military government had let him down numerous times. He hastily checked everyone in, then left back to the house and Levi.

The house is as reasonable secure as they can make it and Jose and Levi decide
to set up a 2 hour watch shift. This area is VERY safe, but it is still a post
nuked society full of scavengers and killers, no way either man would put his
guard down. Before darkness sets they discuss a fire in the bathtub. The whole
area smells of cooking fires so this is not an out of the ordinary occurance.
Jose says that he has something that Levi may appreciate, but a fire is needed.
Levi says “I do like surprises, as long as they aren’t the exploding kind”

The two move to the street and managed to scrounge up enough wood for a small
fire, a few pickets from a long fallen picket fence, a broken chair and several
armfulls of damp weeds. While Levi sits in one of the forward windows, just out
of sight, but with a good view of the street, Jose prepares a fire. The sun has
gone down, the area is decending into darkness. Levi has seen a bit of light
traffic on the street, a few bicycles and people shuffling past paying them no
heed. Jose enters the room clearing his throat “ahem, it’s NOT the real thing
but it is as close as you gonna get” Jose has two battered tin cups, each is
steaming from the top as he hands on to Levi.

“Is this COFFEE?” Levi asks, “No, not coffee per se’ but a close enough
facsimile” Levi takes a sip “well that is for sure, this AIN’T coffee,” he
smiles and thanks Jose saying, “My people produce the best coffee in the WORLD,
crisp sea air across our fields is the only way to produce the best coffee in
the world, ROBUSTA!” Levi was thinking of the Indonesian coffee that was
sparsely grown throughout the islands of his youth.

REALLY?” asked Jose, “You mean second best, to Ecuadorean coffee of course
where we have BOTH crisp sea air AND high cool mountains, we produce both
Arabica and Robusta…..well used to anyway” Jose was right of course, what
little coffe that had been grown in Sumoa was just a local pride, rarely getting
off the island in the days before the war, while Ecuador was a huge coffee

Both men were silent for a minute, thinking about how far away they were from
their birth places, how much must have changed, and how many family members must
be gone. “You are probably correct,” Levi finally says, but we do have the best
GODDAMN coconuts in the world, bet you don’t grow those"

Both men smiled and Jose returned to the kitchen/bathroom. He was back in a
half hour, this time with two larger battered mugs, in each a spoon and steaming
as before. Offering one to Levi he settled against a wall. Jose had boiled up
some fish and rice, the common diet of California these days, but he’d added a
bit of chicken fat he’d brought along in an old sealable cosmetic jar. The
soup was warm and wonderful tasting to Levi, a great cook himself, but
everything tasted better when someone else cooked for you.

Jose took his position at the window, his battered HK across his lap. Levi
moved back to the wall and tried to drift off to sleep……

It is about 9 at night

Hide That Bike!
toward the cemetery

After the bike was hidden and secured. Sam and Diego set off toward the
cemetery. The 3 miles from the college to the cemetery had taken Diego the
better part of an hour to walk before. Now with the bicycle that time had been
cut by in half. 15 minutes on the bike and another 15 on foot to cover the
distance, the bike being hidden about a mile from the cemetery. As the walk
Diego relates the plan to Sam

Sam and Diego will look for some kind of safe haven, billet or motel for potential
boarding and rest. In the meantime, we’ll try to find a way into the cemetery
and get a closer look at the grounds. As the weekend is approaching, we’ll reserve the weekend for a larger sweep of the neighborhood before asking questions and investigating the surrounding area, using the housing or shelter for a night or two should weather or unforeseen
emergency warrant some kind of hideout.

The Holy Cross Cemetery at the base of the San Bruno Moutains-San Bruno
State Park was once a place that held many a famous body, Joe DiMaggio was buried there, now just another long dead corpse from a bygone era, no one cared anymore.

Diego and Sam emerged near the south east corner of the cemetery. Near an old High school. There are many people living in what looks to be a loose community in the High
School. This may be a great place to stay as it overlooks the cemetery grounds
and you could blend in with the locals as just another transient looking for

Diego and Sam do a real casual walk and look at the cemetery. All the entrances are guarded by at least 2 people. Adults wearing a mix of civilian and survival gear and all armed with rifles The entire cemetery is surrounded by an sections of some old iron bar fence but
mostly newer (maintained) chain link fence. It would be a quick scale of the fence, but you can see that the mortuary has a good view of the grounds. The main building. You may be able
to move relatively undetected, especially at night fairly close to the Mortuary itself.

The cemetery area has been stripped of trees (fuel) but there are many larger markers you
could use as cover moving from one to the other to get a closer look

Sam and Deigo wander to the High School, light smoke billows from several
windows, cookig fires no doubt. The several ragged looking pople wander in and
out. Sam suggests they get a look from the roof, Diego responds that it looks
like a squatter community, they may not blend in with their nicer gear.

“That’s why I brought these,” Sam says unslinging his pack. It takes a few seconds to Sam to take off the canvas pack he has on. Inside he pulls out two ponchos made from bed sheets.
The sheets are brown and stained, and lightly slicked with wax or oil to repel
rain. They are simple, basically just a head hole cut into a sheet from a single
bed. They do well to cover up any nicer clothes Diego and Sam have on letting them blend
better into a ragged looking crowd.

Diego and Sam wander into the High school. No one pays them much attention as
they walk the halls they see most rooms occupied but what they are looking for
is the stairs. Finding a flight they climb to the third floor and make their
way to the side that faces the cemetery. Less rooms are occupied here, as
climbing three flightws of stairs although not strenous, keeps the old and
infirm to the lowest level.

“Sam, stay by the door and let me know if anyone is coming,” Diego says as they
find and enter a vacant classroom. There is nothing left in the classroom
except a few overturned basic desks.

Sam waits by the door as Deigo moves to the broken out large window. The
remains of blinds hang loosely and Diego likes the fact that it will provide
some camoflage to break up his image as he removes his brass collapsable
telescope and scans the cemetery.

Each enterence has gaurds, rifles slung on their backs and a mix of civilian and
military gear. Diego notices now that they have tan armbands on, and some other
tan trim to their gear. Tan patches sewn on hats, tan bands painted around
rifles etc…

There is a chain link fence around the whole property. Diego then sees
something he hadn’t noticed before, he spends several minutes watching two more
guard make a loop of the inner property. Deigo thinks he sees an area that is
the least looked at, thet they could have a reasonable chance of getting to the
main building.

“But what to do when we get there,” Diego says aloud as he snaps his telescope
shut. “Somebody’s coming,” Sam says as he moves inside whispering loudly
“single guy coming down the hall.”

Diego motions for Sam to move back in the corner of the room on the wall that the door is set in, Diego does likewise in the opposite corner. The only way to be seen would be for the man to walk inside. clump, Clump, CLUMP, came the footsteps. CLUMP, Clump, clump went the footsteps as the man walked down the hallway past the doorway without stopping.

The highschool was a good observation point and a good base of operations. Looked like a good place to squat/camp and blend in. Diego figured they had about an hour left of daylight and another hour of dusk visibility. “Guard the door again Sam,” Diego instructed his assistant as he returned to the window and opened the brass telescope once again. Diego looked to the North were a low mountain called San Bruno rose over the area.

A better place to get a vantage point on the cemetery. It would be a vigorous hike to the ridge, but a great place to observe the cemetery. The mountain was devoid of trees down low, most cut long ago for firewood, but the higher you climbed the trees were sparse and many bushes and scrub would provide cover. Diego scanned with his monocular, seeing many valleys and crevasses that would hide their journey. Far atop the mountain were the remains of radio towers. Most of their red and white paint had weathered off, a few had fallen but two still stood tall.

Diego concocted a plan. “Surveyors!” he said aloud. Sam turned from his observation of the hallway and asked “what?” Diego answered “Sam we are now surveyors, looking into the plausibility of using one of those radio towers again.” He continued, " Even if someone recognises us, it is not unfeasible that we have taken a job from a private firm or the government to hike up there and look over the equipment and stability. Most people at school know me as a radio buff, so they know I posses the skills. Even the hastened departure today can be explained as I have this as a pressing job."

The two move down the stairs and back outside. No one seems to pay them any attention although they pass a few people here and there, most others tend to their own business and outside of a few hasty glances from a few, you feel no one cares you are there.

As they walk Diego goes over their cover story. “I’m looking into the feasibility of turning one of these towers into a mast radiator, remember ‘mast radiator’ that will sound technical enough to keep people who don’t know anything about it from questioning you further. If they DO push further, say that I am the radio expert, that you are just along as protection and company but that it has something to do with getting a tower working as a broadcaster and receiver for a radio station.”

Diego decides he is surveying the area for the community college. “Why not extend the school’s reach, and use radio as that contact point. Radio has the potential to be a powerful force within reaching various people or to those who may not have the means to attend our school. We would not necessarily have to be as sneaky in our surveillance of the area as we would be hidden in plain sight, simply doing research for the college”.

This could serve as fact and fiction. Yes, Diego’s first prerogative is to perform reconnaissance on the cemetery grounds, but there is no reason why the tower could not be used by the community college, albeit for academia or to simply spin a few discs. Diego would love to have an additional mouthpiece, and a radio station with functioning tower would fit the bill to a tee.

Diego all of a sudden got lost from his original plan, thinking of broadcasting his lectures to a broader audience….he’d almost convinced himself that his cover story was actually plausible.

The Rug
Clear the stairs

After Levi explained what he had seen and how the traps were set up he moved back into the hole in the wall and stood up.

“Well lets get rid of this one first.” Levi pulls a multi tool from his pocket and cuts the weight off the wall mounted brick of C4, then yanks out the detonator. He figures to save the trip wire as it is now a booby trap “kit” set the trip wire and insert the detonator. He’s taken a good look at the mount and there is no other way to set off the C4. It is just on a little wooden shelf and he picks it up and tosses it through the hole to Jose. “Don’t worry its safe, here catch” Jose had seen and heard about C4 but never had worked with it. He was a little apprehensive about having a block of explosive in his hand, but knew it was safe without a detonator.

Levi set the detonator down on an upper stair. They would salvage it and its wire once the claymore was disarmed, salvaging the wire from that as well. Levi has inspected the top 5 steps and there is nothing under them. He is standing on the 5th stair down, and is thinking about a way to see under the stairs below him. There are 13 stairs total and then a small landing and a metal door with a round turn handle. The claymore is on the wall above the door and you will need a stepladder/stool set on one of the bottom stairs or the landing to get to it.

“Hey this place must have a bathroom, with a mirror, must be at least some broken shards of mirror about.” Levi moved back out of the hole and the two men moved together to a small bathroom off the kitchen. Sure enough there was a wall mounted medicine cabinet which looked to have been punched square in the center staring the mirror. The tip of a knife easily produced several pizza slice sized and shaped pieces of mirror.

Returning to the stairs Levi was able to brace himself against the wall and lean far enough with his arm outstretched holding the mirror to inspect the underside of each step before moving down. In a few minutes he was at the last step. Jose had moved through the hole and was standing on one of the higher steps, Taking a good visual look at the door and the area. He still had a bit of apprehension of the claymore that was now pointing right at him, he found himself kneeling down, as if somehow the claymore shot would go over him if he ducked.

“Well well well,” Levi chuckled, “one more huh?” Jose asked “What is it?” and descended the stairs. “Take a look at this” Jose followed Levi’s pointing finger. A layer of dust was built up on the landing semi obscuring a black rubber mat, the ‘wipe your feet’ kind that are common in entrance ways. “See the indented lines just inside the outside edge of the mat?” Jose looked closely as Levi moved the beam of his flashlight about the mat.

There was indeed an indentation of a square in the mat. “Something under there huh?” Jose asked. “You bet,” Levi answered "pressure plate no doubt, step on her and something happens, probably something goes boom. Whatever is behind that door, someone pretty paranoid about somebody getting in there.

There are a few hours of light left, but this has been a long day of rooting around. Jose suggests they set the place for a stay over night, readying defensive positions and securing. They could continue working later after they were sure no one would surprise them as they were downstairs.

“Plus,” Jose said, “I’m still employed by the United States Government, I have to head to the docks to make sure all the boats get back, should be back in an hour. Unless there is trouble.”
Levi agrees and they move out of the stairwell into the front room of the house. “Cool I’ll hold down the fort.” Levi begins securing the house as Jose walks back to the dock area.

Two Wheeled Journey
Diego and Sam ride to cemetery

Diego climbs on the back of the tandem bike and he and Sam set off for the cemetery. There is a light mist/rain falling and it is grey and overcast. They will arrive still with light in the sky, but will be traveling home after dark. There will be a few hours of fading visibility and good weather to sneak into the cemetery for a closer look. They could then canvas the neighborhood just after dark to attempt to find a bar or gather up rumors. The rain will keep most people indoors, but there is a smattering of traffic as business as usual goes on about them.

Diego’s apprehension about what they are doing manifests in an anxiety over everyone watching them, sticking out like a sore thumb on this huge tandem bicycle. Just as that shiver of anxiety hits him another tandem bicycle appears before them heading in their direction. Like a mirror image its two rain coated riders monotonously pump the pedals, heads down not paying them any attention as they pass.

Diego is a natural paranoid, valid or not. Having companionship on any quest, educational, philosophical or frivolous is sometimes a welcome respite against loneliness. But riding on a tandem bicycle on a quest that should be mostly inconspicuous is about as stealthy as a bull in a china shoppe. We need to ditch this bike post haste he thinks. Diego speaks "Sam I feel that we are sticking out like a matador’s red cape on this bike. I know you have good intentions, but we need to find a secure place to hide this bike. “Sure thing,” Sam answers, “was planning on walking the last half mile or so, you are the General let me know when you wanna ditch it.” Diego adds, It does expedite our commute significantly, but I’m afraid it also draws undo attention to our mission. We don’t want nor need extra attention."

Sam continues to question as they ride, “Mr Acosta, I’m curious about this group in the cemetery, got any speculation on what it is besides the rumors I told you yesterday?” Diego answers him, I was able to locate a few pre war periodical that mentioned George Sorros. They may be a form of capitalist survival cult who may be looking to get a foothold in the area. But the main reason we are on this fact-finding-mission, is to gather data and form or enforce any theories that we may have before assuming too many hypothetical opinions."

It is a few more minutes a non conversation as the two must put effort into climbing a small hill. As they get to the crest Sam blurts out “I think she’s a Russian spy,” The peddling is easy now that gravity is helping them down the other side of the hill. "I know sounds silly, but there are Russians here in Mexico, they could be up here to gain a foothold through universities like they did before the war.

Diego does actually think this is silly, remembering American paranoia about everyone being a spy from some various faction that sought to overthrow the government, but he tempered his answer, “You’re opinion is a valid one, Sam. But based on what I’ve read, that would seem counterintuitive to the basis or philosophy of what this George Sorros foundation or group represents. They are built on a capitalistic approach in forging a society, and if Delores is a spy, especially a Russian one, then she is definitely playing several fields simultaneously, and frankly, I don’t know if I accept that yet. Again, let’s do some more investigating before we draw any conclusions.”

At this point Diego reminds Sam that all of this fact gathering is strictly done with clandestine intentions. “For us to be successful, secrecy is of the utmost importance.” Sam replies “aye-aye General Acosta” and salutes " I’ve spent a lifetime of foraging a lot of this city and more than once have had to hide from bad guys, the fact I’m still alive means I must be doing something right. Delores is pretty good looking, what you think?

Diego is slightly taken aback at Sam abruptly changing the subject of the discussion and answers “Certainly, but it was her intellect and curiosity that drew attention personally. Though she is quite comely, I can never drop my guard against Delores until I can truly unravel her true intentions. You are familiar with Samson and Delilah, no? The love of a woman’s can blind you to deceit.” A quote popped into Diego’s head, “Deceiving others, that is what the world calls romance” (Oscar Wilde)

Thay have been peddling for about a half hour and are close enough that Diego feels it a good place to leave the bike. “Start looking Sam, we will leave our mount here and proceed on foot.” Within a few blocks they have located a collapsed brick building, with its walls intact but the roof fallen inside. No reason for anyone to go in, as it provides no shelter, he concludes. They loiter outside for a few minutes making sure no one sees them move the bike inside. It is chained to thick water pipe and covered with the camo-netting. Sam takes extra diligence to scatter some rubble atop it, from more than a few feet away it is entirely invisible, looking like a heap of trash.

Sam speaks as they leave the building, again carefully looking to see if anyone is watching them. They head for the cemetery “If we get into trouble, fight or flight? I mean depending on the circumstance that is….but say one or the other takes precedence?” Diego answers “Yes, I have given this some thought as well. Again, our mission is one of investigation, therefore meant to be performed with utmost discretion and stealth. However, should danger rear its head in our direction, we need a plan of retreat. Before drawing our weapons, we need to access the situation before any situations should arise. I believe diplomacy will be our first course of action. Should diplomacy fail, we need to have an exit strategy or path of retreat and a rendezvous point should we become separated. If both should fail, whereas flight is not an option, they will certainly know the taste of my steel. You shoot high, and I’ll hit them low, Sam! Viva la Mexico!”

As they set out on foot, Diego explains the history of the Alamo to Sam, how a determined well trained force will succeed over a rabble of the unprepared no matter how well entrenched, in order to bolster the bravado of his young companion.

Horses with holes
Maze evening and early bed

Charlie and Maze wandered the dock area waiting for signs of the first boats to return. Captains often attempted to stay out longer hoping to increase catch size. Out after dark was dangerous, no more radios and coast guard, no more radar just lost in the inky blackness of night. The Japanese fleet had pretty strict rules about returning, which was why most of the fleet returned en masse’. Captains knew to bring their boats home with time to prep the catch for the following day’s market. There were a few seasoned captains who could be given occasional passes to stay out late, but rarely did Maze have to have a discussion over the importance of every boat and every man with a Captain dallying late after dark.

The first boats appeared in the bay as the sun had dipped below the horizon. Maze and Charlie wandered the docks as boats berthed and crews began organising catches and prepping them for market. Maze did not see anyone he associated with The Great Tim. Usually Tim’s goons would be rooting about looking for the best fish. The Goons usually compensated the Captain, but often poorly. This was another of Maze’s jobs, he would not let a prize fish just disappear. Even though Yasuda had never done anything about it, Maze always filed the report, who, what, were, when, why……At the very least it showed a Captain had done his job well.

The last boat in was the Umino Uma, The Sea Horse. A 35 foot fiberglass pleasure sailboat, her cabin removed for a fish hold, she looked like she’d had some trouble as her 4 crew members were busy with buckets relieving her of water. Maze stood sternly aside the dock as the Uma bumped against old tires secured to the pier, one crew member leaping out to lashed her secure. “Little trouble?” Maze asked the Captain as he climbed out onto the pier. “Not too bad,” caught something submerged as we rounded into the Bay, small hole will be an easy repair. “Charlie go get…” Maze began to speak and turned but Charlie was already gone, no doubt to fetch a couple workmen and a patch kit.

Maze climbed aboard and looked at the damage. The Uma had a 4 inch gash just below the water line near the bow. Sure easy enough to cut a piece of fiberglass from a wrecked boat and screw it over the hole, some pitch or salvaged caulk would keep the water out and make here seaworthy again. Charlie was back in minutes, two workers and a small child’s wagon filled with patching material. The workers were done in minutes with the bulk of the repair, jumping into the water and securing the patch from the outside of the hull, a like patch on the inside, with a dab of pitch. Screwing the two patches together compressed them over hole in the the hull

A question formed in Maze’s mind. He turned back, saying “Captain, a moment more, please…”, and waited politely until the captain was satisified that the repair detail wasn’t doing more harm than good—there’s no such thing as a “minor” problem when one is playing by 18th century rules to scrape a living out of the water. Satisfied, he continued: “Out of curiosity, did you manage to judge whether whatever holed you was transient crap or something worth a new mark on the fleet charts?”

“I’m sure that, at the time,” Maze added with a small smile to allay any fear the captain might have that this was prelude to a more…formal…remonstration from Maze personally or on behalf of his superiors, “you had more immediate concerns to address. I’d hate, however, to hear that one of your Red Sail brothers ran into trouble in the same spot.” The Captain answered “You are correct that we shoudl mark it, I fear it was me cutting too close to shore that produced sure a result, but there is also nothing on our charts for another 50 yards of my position.” Maze apprieciated that the Captain took responsibility for his actions, this was the kind of trucst that Maze had worked heard to install in all whom he worked with.

The Organization’s charts couldn’t exactly be called “definitive” by any stretch of the imagination—but, hell, the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers couldn’t bat 1.000 back in the day. The fact that there was a concerted effort among the Japanese fleet to ensure that the hazard charts were regularly updated and distributed to all sailing under the Red (“or Pink, these days…” he noted with a mental snort) generally worked to both the fleet captains’ and the Organization’s benefit.

“Let the gaijin boats stumble around blindly, eh?,” Maze said as a ghost of a smile, though one far more predatory than friendly, formed on his lips. Though he had no real issues with the Uma’s crew or captain, Maze did recognize that the fleet on the whole was often a world unto itself with its own rules, codes of conduct, and cliques. While it was technically against the Organization’s “rules” to withold relevant information from the Red fleet or to share “company” information with outsiders, he generally turned a blind eye to captains who kept a second set of “private” charts that noted particularly hot fishing sites or who passed along a quiet warning about a newly noted hazard to a comrade in one of the other fleets out of frienship, gratitude, or to repay a debt. They all did it, after all; and had done so since the dawn of man’s time on the water. For those who lived and died by the tides, it was simply part of the ethos.

However, passing along a full set of Organization charts or failing to report a significant danger, particularly if it caused problems for others Japanese fleet subsequent to discovery, were both, in Maze’s book, significant transgressions. These things were part of what set the Red Fleet not just apart, but above, all the others, and Maze considered it a personal affront when he got word that some drunken captain decided to lay down a master set of Organization charts in a shipboard poker game with a bunch of chinese and gaijin captains. That man was most fortunate he won the hand—and equally fortunate that his horrified 1st Mate dragged him out of the game immediately after he laid his two-pair winner down with a sloppy smile, as he undoubtedly would have served as a very different sort of object lesson for the other captains.

As it was, it was the captain himself, sporting an impressive pair of black eyes and wincing from something more than just the misery of a hangover, who reported the affair to Maze before sunrise the next morning. Charlie, of course, had heard all about the “re-education and dedication” session the first mate and bosun had inflicted on their captain long before Maze found the man prostrated outside his office door. Impressed with the mate’s swift and thorough approach to the problem, he was content scare the piss—rather literally, it turned out—of the man and immediately demote the captain to a deckhand role while promoting the mate to captain.

Having never met a bosun of any stripe who wanted to be anything BUT the bosun, Maze simply gave his thanks and a significant amount of credit at any of the organization’s Mum clubs. Under the new captain, the boat has been a top producer and the former captain has earned promotion all the way back to 1st mate. Charlie has also reported that the man hasn’t been seen taking a drink nor gambling outside an Organization club. That was good enough for Maze—and it surely beat having to lash him to the mast and whip him British East India Company-style.

He wondered what would happen as Tiny Tim and the Goon Squad took a greater hand in daily ops dockside. Would the little things like hiding the best fish grow into things that would undercut the whole fleet? Or would those idiots turn into little martinets enforcing every tiny infraction with beat-downs or worse? It was a ugly picture, either way. Maybe tomorrow he’d swing by the Laughing Eel—Maze never quite could understand the thought process used to come up with some of these names—and sound out that former captain’s interest in an opportunity at another boat of his own. He genuinely seemed happy not to have the responsibility, and his former mate certainly rose to the challenge, but Maze was certain that “new management” wasn’t going to be particularly interested in personnel matters and promotion lists. Nor, he suspected, were they particularly sensitive to the subtle value of following-up on discipline matters.

That “mental snort” seemed to be an increasingly regular sentiment these days, he thought with a shake of his head. Maze suggests they go tomorrow Feb 5th to the area. The Captain could mark it on the chart to the best of his remembrance, but it would be best to take one of the organisations chart makers. Maze knows that the catch is ready, as is the market and he is not really needed there, it is not his area and he just mostly wanders about. Early tomorrow he will contact one of the chart keepers to go to the docks and wait. After Maze is sure the market is up and running he wil return to the docks and the Sea Horse will sail to that spot with Maze and the chart keeper aboard. Satisfied they would be finished shortly, Maze continued making sure all Captains had secured their cargo and all would be ready for market tomorrow.

The last of the sun’s rays were finally gone as the dull orange sky turned to grey. It was black by the time Maze got home. A quick meal of boiled fish for him and Charlie, a little tea and Charlie excused himself. Maze felt oddly tired, maybe the pressure of the last few days had caught up to him. Time for an early bedtime tonight, he secured his home and retired for the evening.

I think I heard something in the basement
Jose and Levi get onto the stairs

Jose and Levi looked around for a few pieces of sturdy wood and shored up the hole in the wall. They were careful to brace the cinder blocks above to ensure that any undermining of the structure that they did, didn’t result in the wall collapsing. Finding a few 2×4s the hole was braced just in case. It was a well constructed wall and the staggered build of cinderblocks should not fall, the bracing would ensure that.

They spent another half hour removing a few more cinder blocks near the floor. A grown man could now crawl through it onto the stairs that led down to the basement door. Both took long looks at the interior, straining with their flashlights to see every inch and make an educated decision before entering and descending.

A layer of dust covered everything, showing that nothing had traversed these stairs for quite some time. There were only the two packages in there, repeated looks by both men and they decided that those were the only booby traps. Levi went head first, his hands feeling around the stair that he then crawled onto feeling, testing, looking cautiously.

Eventually he stood turning to look closer at the trap mounted on the wall that was above the hole. Jose waiting outside heard an audible sigh and then a whistle as Levi squatted down, his face appearing in the hole. “You gotta see this, really a good job,” Levi exited the hole and and stood in the kitchen.

Levi moved quickly in front of the door, as a brood smile crept onto his face, he described the system of traps. “See you have a two fold trap system in here, someone cuts through the wall and they are standing in font of the door,” Levi motioned in front of the door then threw up his arms, “BOOOM!” he yelled as he spun around. “Then you see, your buddies and standing in this room and behind this wall, ALSO triggered by the door being jarred, KA-BLOWY!” Levi threw up his hands and pirouetted, there’s a block of C4 behind this wall that kills everyone in the room, and demolishes the house collapsing atop the entrance, at the very least denying access until someone spends days digging it out.

Raindrops keep falling on my head
Diego heads to the Cemetery

CLANG CLANG CLANG rang the bell announcing 3 o clock. The school had salvaged
a decent sized bell and it was rung every hour from 8am when the first classes
started to 6pm when the last classes let out. Diego had formulated a plan to
head off into Delores neighborhood again and do some more reconnoissance. He’d
laid out his adventure gear in his room so he could slip easily into it, as the
bell clanged its last Diego sauntered into his classroom.

He had about 20 older and smarter kids/young adults in his late class. Most of
the lectures were about the theory of language. Sometimes Diego had lesson
plans, other times it became an open discussion loosely moderated by himself.
He liked to let the students challenge each other, promoting critical thinking
and debate. Diego had a plan today, he had a very structured lecture that would
wrap up about a half hour early allowing him more time to get to, and look
around Delores’ area.

Half way through the hurried lecture Diego apologized to the students,
acknowledging that he was hurrying to get to an appointment and letting them
know that he would make it up to them with future classes that they would be
allowed to continue long. Diego finished the lecture then told the students
they could stay and discuss or leave. Most had already broken into discussion
groups, there was a light rain falling outside and better to hang out and hope
it ends rather than a wet walk home. Delores rose and looked like she had
something to say, but Diego shook his head and said “sorry I’ve got an
appointment to keep.” she smiled and he turned and walked out the door.

Diego hurried quickly to his room, changing into the adventuring clothes he’d
laid out. At one time these clothes would have cost thousands of dollars, with
high dollar brands name tags stitched into them, now they were still quite
valuable, but it was their ruggedness of being well built and their
functionality that made them invaluable.

He strapped his saber and pistol into less conspicuous areas, slipped on a small
ruck sack with some provisions for a days trip, a large antique looking
collapsable leather wrapped brass 30x spyglass went into a long coat pocket.
Over it all he pulled a heavy brown poncho, oiled on the outside to repel water.
He locked his door and wandered down the hall to the front door.

He said “hola” to the guard by the front door, an older Latino wearing a wide
sombrero and a revolver loosely in a leather holster. Diego saluted and quipped
“You may now command Division del Norte in my absence” making a vague Pancho
Villa reference and walked the cracked blacktop off of the campus.

Something cracked over his shoulder and he turned hearing the light ‘ring ring’
of a bicycle bell. “Your ride is here” it was Sam the student he’d paid to do
some recon of Delores’ area of town. “Que es esto?” Diego asked what is this?
“You didn’t think I’d not know what you are doing…did you?” Sam was dressed
similarly to Diego, but his clothes a more Army surplus kind of mix and he was
riding on a battered Raleigh tandem bicycle.

The tandem was oversprayed a dull grey green, but some of its original red paint
showed through many chips and there was an armature of saddle bags made out of
old plastic milk crates bolted about the back tire. The crates held a couple of
oiled sacks that seemed to be full of something, and there was a tarp or bedroll
secured to the handlebars. Along the frame a cable snaked, secured with a lock,
probably to secure the bike and it’s parts from theft like one would have
secured patio furniture before the war.

The rain seemed to slacken a bit into a mist as Diego climbed on the backseat of
the tandem, “figuring we going to the cemetary right?” Sam asked almost
rhetorically as he pulled an old pair of ski goggles over his eyes. “Si,” Diego
answered “We are the Delores regiment, no?” Sam asked but Diego didn’t answer.
“Of course we are,” Sam said loudly as they began to peddle away. “You are
General Sesma,” and as they peddled Diego learned something as Sam began to
recite the history of the Delores Cavalry regiment of the Mexican army, Santa
Anna’s favorite, named for the small city of Delores where the first skirmishes
of the Mexican revolution against the Spanish. And of course their heroic
attack and defeat of a detachment of 62 Texans at the Alamo.

Read this if you want to read what Sam recites as they ride\


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