The General stepped out of his command truck and smiled. This was a first in many long months, over which time he thought he'd never smile again, but in this instance he could not help it. He stood before the Town Hall of Black Lake, a large Neo-Gothic building erected in the late 19th century. It was one of the tallest structures in Black Lake, complete with a pair of narrow towers and a large courtyard behind the building. The General had never been in Con County before, but he was aware of its reputation, hence the sight of such beautiful architecture filled him with positivity.
He took a deep breath of the cool evening air and turned to face his troops. Over two hundred men stood before him in formation, his lieutenants standing at the front wearing berets marked with the winged skull insignia of the Wild Boys. On the side stood three figures he wished he could do without: Doctor Roahmyer, his assistant Layla, and the mercenary Gabe London.
Behind his troops stood the vehicles of the convoy, parked in an orderly fashion, which gave him cause to maintain his grin. Yet he chose to abandon the smile, for he understood the gravity of his situation, and did not want his men to take him for a fool.
He turned to address the closest of his lieutenants, a burly man with two small scars on his left cheek. `Apocalypse, report!' the General said. Apocalypse saluted him.
`The company is ready for deployment, sir!'
`Very good. Is the shipment safe and sound?'
Apocalypse glanced in the direction of the eighteen wheeler and nervously nodded.
`Yes, sir. As far as I can tell, sir.'
Doctor Roahmyer cleared his throat. The General turned his head and nodded to the scientist.
`All readings indicate that the shipment is undamaged, General,' Doctor Roahmyer said.
`Good,' the General replied, and he turned back to his men. `You all know what we are about to do. Within minutes, we will become wanted men in every country in the world. If we are ever caught, we will face the death penalty, with or without a trial. Yet we do what we must for the sake of a better world.'
The General paused and swept his gaze over his men. The Wild Boys stood unblinking, awaiting his orders. None seemed hesitant, none seemed like they wished they were elsewhere.
`Our sacrifice will lay the foundation of a new world order,' he continued. `Our children and grandchildren will grow up in a utopia built on our blood, sweat, and tears. Yet I will offer you all one last chance to back out. Once we step through the door behind me, there will be no turning back. Those who join me will become fugitives for the rest of their lives. I will not hold it against you if you turn back now. Those who want to leave, step up to me now.'
When the General stopped talking, an eerie silence descended onto the street. The General soon became aware of the sound of dragonflies in the distance, mixed with the silent noises seeping out from the Town Hall. No one moved. Half a minute passed when Gabe London snorted. The General snapped his head in the mercenary's direction. Gabe smiled apologetically and patted his stomach, mouthing the word indigestion. The General shook his head and turned back to the Wild Boys.
`Thank you. Thank you for your loyalty and dedication. I say this to you now, for as you all know, no one will thank you when this day is through.' He turned to Apocalypse. `Does everyone have a copy of the tactical map?'
`Yes, sir,' Apocalypse said. `All points of interest are clearly marked.'
The General nodded and addressed the rest of his lieutenants.
`Rattlesnake, take the eighteen-wheeler to the courtyard and set up a perimeter. Absinthe, Mortarface, Jackal, each of you take two tanks and a squad, and set up a blockade at each exit of the town. These are marked as Checkpoints Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie on the map. Stomper, Mute, Goatmeat, divide the motorcycles and the quads into three groups and patrol the town limits between the barricades. Nobody gets in, nobody goes out. Any unarmed runners, use the stun guns. Shoot to kill anyone who pulls a weapon on you. Understood?'
`Yes, sir,' the lieutenants replied.
`I did not hear everyone.'
Over two hundred voices roared in unison.
The General smiled once again, for a brief moment.
`Apocalypse, you are on point. Pick twelve men to bring with you. Everyone who has nothing to do, take positions in the courtyard and in the surrounding streets. I want snipers on all nearby rooftops. If anyone enters the area, I want to know right away.'
The General turned to the three unsavory characters on the side.
`Doctor Roahmyer, park the mobile lab in the courtyard by the eighteen wheeler, and prepare the shipment. Mister London, you're with me.'
Gabe London's response gave the General pause, but he let it go. He had long given up on attempting to teach the mercenary about discipline.
He turned back to the Wild Boys and gave the order he had been itching to give ever since he had planned his rogue operation.
`Let's go, gentlemen! We have a party to crash!'
As the Wild Boys took off to carry out their tasks, the General turned to face the entrance of the Town Hall. He walked up to it like a man with a purpose, Gabe London and Apocalypse flanking him. He nodded to the burly scarred man and Apocalypse unceremoniously kicked down the door.
For more, please proceed to the novel Shadow Of Con City.
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