James staggered out the opening in the cave's ceiling. All five Grenzschutz had died. Bernie came out then and coughed profusely from all the running they had done from the moles. Erik and Carl then came out, also shaking and coughing. James looked around at their surroundings. "I'm not sure where we are right now. Come on, guys, let's move."
Bernie felt like a sip of water more than anything, but taking off his mask could result in who knows what. He might even die if he took it off. He left it on. "Who closed that behind us?" he asked.
James reloaded his revolver; he had had to resort to it when he dropped his new Gewehr in the cave. He answered, "I don't know, probably savages. Let's see if we can find the reinforcements."
After a marching across a few hills, they caught sight of a Freischteet convoy of trucks and vans. Their headlights were all on, and shock troopers wearing armor and masks were piled in the back of the vehicles. Instantly, James and the others rushed down and waved them down.
The captain in the lead truck saluted. "Ah, there you are, Robertson! Superb to see you again. Where were you? Where are the others?"
James looked glum again. "Dead," he said. "Giant moles. Cave. All dead. We're lucky we found a natural staircase and managed to escape through a hole in the cavern ceiling. Now, what's going down?"
The captain looked equally downtrodden, but carried on. "We just received a radio report that the Soviet head-of-state, en route to a meeting with the Kaise- er, Governor, has crashed about 30 klicks east of here. Stalin is not... our buddy, but things have to be done when they need doing, so, he's our pal for now. Just so you know, we plan to use him as a patsy. Things in Russia are infamous, and in some aspects they're worse than the Huns. But, if we find him, try not to 'upset' him."
James nodded and quipped sarcastically, "I don't plan on upsetting him, but I hear his temperament is so pleasant."
The mole-attack survivors piled in the back of a truck and the convoy motored onward once more.
Harry Roberston sat in his house on his couch, munching on a Bavarian chocolate bar. "This is the life!"
His girlfriend smiled at him, "I think so, too, babe. I'm sure glad you decided to let me in on your 'secret.' Lucky for you I like chocolate, technology, and German products, or I'd tell." She was Sally McDowell, from the next county over. The McDowells were a very powerful family, and somewhat friendly to the Robertsons, as fellow Scots. Sally was the granddaughter of the clan leader... and next in line to the family throne. A union between the Robertsons and the McDowells could be most... helpful... in furthering Harry's ambitions. After that, a pairing of his brother Bart with the leader of the nearby Fleming's girl, Mary-Beth, would lead to another union. And so forth and so on. Just like Europe in the Middle Ages, family took the place of country. Men were once again willing to lay down their lives for their uncle's cousin's feud.
Harry tossed her a chocolate bar. "There ya go. With my contacts, eventually you'll be able to take baths in chocolate if you want. An' in a golden tub! Just you wait an' see! Why, we'll rule all of Pennsylvania! We already have gear. All we need to do is have a factory somewhere, learn how to better repair old vehicles, and everything'll be 'peachy.' So, I trust yer old man agreed to the weddin'?"
She nodded and opened the candy, "Oh, yeah, he did. Got no worries there, babe. What about your cousin?"
"Yeah, what about him?"
"Haven't you heard?" Her green eyes grew wide.
He looked confused and so, "I don't get you. What about him? I exiled him, you know that. He's probably been dismembered by some bandits by now."
She shook her head, "Nope, he isn't dead. Your men are, though. All of them. James and the others are free. I'm kind of glad. He was kind of cute-"
"Shut yer mouth!" he boomed. He grabbed his cap and thundered out the building. "I'll kill 'im! I swear!" Five minutes later, after asking his men, he came back in, red-faced. "He's escaped, all right! He's gone with the wind!" Harry had never once seen the Clark Gable classic, but some phrases never wear out. "Gosh darn it to the devil and gone! He's loose! I'm doubling the guards. The dastard will prob'ly try to kill us."
She laughed, "Kill me? I don't think so. Remember? It used to be me and him. Maybe kill you, but not me. Guard your own butt."
He regained his composure and sat down again. "The Dutchies. That's who done it! Those sticking Dutchies. I bet my spleen it was the Free State," Harry said with intense hatred. "I want to have the wedding as soon as possible. Correction: weddings. Bart's proposed to Mary-Beth Fleming. In a week, both weddings could be done and the Robertson flag will fly over three counties. And, of course, there'll be others, likely one o our girls marrying one of the Davidson boys. That's four. An' then, we could marry off one of your brothers! And again, and again, and again! In just a month, we could likely get ten counties. Ten. Count 'em. There are a bunch of old factories in the Fleming's county. And there are always bunkers here and there with gear an' helmets. This is gonna be easy. We can conquer almost anything if we get ten counties. Including those darn Dutchies. We'll teach 'em."
"My husband, Julius Caesar. What do you plan on calling yourself, anyway? Clan leader won't work for ten counties. There'll be lots of folks who aren't even related to the county's dominant clan. There are lots of little families you know." She stuffed the candy wrapper in her shorts pocket.
"I know. I've come up with Duke as a title. The 'Duke and Duchess of the Duchy of Northern Pennsylvania.' Quaint, ain't it?"
"Charming. Just like a fairy tale. But with gratuitous violence and radiation."
"That! Ya zinged me there. That was a good quip! You're picking up my personality already! By the way, I've had a few clothes made for you by our tailor. I hope you'll like them."
"Thanks!" She was genuinely appreciative. Nice clothing, especially new, was almost impossible to get. Right now she wore old clothing once new and German, but totally worn out. Most all original American clothing items was lost by the time she was born. In Germany in the 90's, when they were at their most lax, shorts, miniskirts, and half shirts had become cheap and popular, though the older generation thought they were scandalous. Half shirts were what every young woman wore now, just like t-shirts were what men wore. Anything else was too expensive. Harry tossed her a bag containing a new coat, an actual dress, and a few other items. "Nice! I love them. The material's like new!"
"It is new. It's from them Dutchies. Well, correction: it's from bandits who robbed Dutchies. The truck they hijacked had a bunch of material in it. I bought the whole lot, including the truck. Bandits didn't have no need for any of it, and just wanted the money. Have fun with that cell phone game I showed you. I'm gonna go down and see what the boys found. They were going through a warehouse the Randalls used to have. Back in a while."
Sally picked up the cell phone Harry had secretly given her. The game that was on it was a fascist Italian game called Mario Brothers. It involved running a mustachioed Blackshirt through the Venice canals. It was bizarre, along with dated, but it was fun and a technical marvel to post-War Americans. She sat and played it while Harry drove to the warehouse.
Harry stepped out of his truck and hollered to his men searching the warehouse, "So, what'd ya'll find?!"
A "soldier" saluted and quickly responded, "Sir, we believe we've found something. Something big. There seems to have been a Resistance bunker underneath the warehouse, and not even the Randalls knew about it! There's all kindsa stuff down there. Uniforms, helmets, equipment, oil drums, radios, a TV, and... a generator. A working generator."
"Wow. C'mon, show me!" Harry said, thoroughly surprised. The Robertson trooper escorted him into the warehouse and over to a tunnel that had been recently uncovered. "How'd you find this?"
"One of our boys tripped over a loose board. Lucky, sir, very lucky, even if he did sprain his ankle."
Harry went down and realized there was electric lighting. He looked around the massive bunker.
LEGO Builder, Writer, Video-Gamer, Greaser, History Professor, Swordsman, and Military Collector. I am the Most Interesting Man in the World. :p