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The Big Muddy

Page history last edited by Michael 3 years, 1 month ago

back to the Index, or to the list of R36 reports, or to Team R36

 

report covers 16 August 2140 to 24 August 2140


 


 

Tuesday, 16 August 2140

 

weathersunset at 6:23 p.m.; end of nautical twilight at 7:19 p.m. The moon is full. Along the Gulf Coast, the high temperature was only 80° F, and the night-time low was 71° F; humidity was about 75%. A 6 kph wind blew from the WSW; light drizzle during the afternoon, and a very brief thunderstorm around 3 p.m., kept everything wet. Visibility was 8 km at best over the Gulf.

 

     The team spent the afternoon re-sorting their equipment, mostly staying inside their hovercraft under cloudy skies (and an afternoon thunderstorm, which was also when the high temperature was reached). They were a couple of kilometers from what used to be Portland, Florida.

     The night passed uneventfully.

 

Wednesday, 17 August 2140

 

weather light rain around 9 a.m.

 

     Jeff and the team decided to visit the cache in Florida. About 60 kilometers of travel along beaches, at 30 kph, took two hours.

     The cache was on a small hill, a few kilometers inland from Panama City. The city itself was a flooded, nuked wreck, with chunks of bridges and sturdy buildings standing out of the marshy water.

     Undisturbed and undamaged, the cache contained:

 

cache FL-01

 

universal contents - 3.0 cubic meters

quantity

item

volume

1

14.5x20 runflat tire and wheel, for Commando vehicles (or regular military 2.5 ton and 5 ton trucks, for that matter); normally laid flat on the top of the cache; weight about 150 kg; uninflated but looks the same since it's a runflat. They are randomly set up for either left or ride side usage ...

0.8

1

vehicle lube set:  19 liter can of API GL-5 gear oil, 5 liter can of lube oil, 5 liter can of chassis grease

0.1

1

box of 18 (one of each size) resistweave coveralls, without patches

0.4

1

box of 6 sets Project-issue underwear (socks, shorts, tee-shirts) -- two each of small, medium, large sizes

0.1

2

sets of Project-issue personal equipment (belt, suspenders, ammo pouches, holster, canteen, compass, KCB-70 knife, field dressing in belt pouch)

0.1

2

pairs of Project-issue black leather boots - one is medium, one is randomly either large or small

0.1

2

cases of LRP rations (each case is 5 boxes, 12 meals per box, 4.2 kg per box), total 120 meals

0.1

1

box of 12 M10A1 filter canisters for M25 gas masks

0.1

1

case of 2880 rds 9x19mm ball ammunition

0.1

1

case of 1200 rds .44 Magnum ball or soft point ammunition

0.1

1

case of 1640 rds 5.56x45mm ball ammunition

0.1

1

case of 2000 rds 5.56x45mm linked ammunition (twenty Stoner-system 100 rd. plastic tubs), 4 ball to 1 tracer

0.1

1

case of 920 rds 7.62x51mm ball ammunition

0.1

2

cases of 800 rds 7.62x51mm linked ammunition (four cans, each with a 200 rd. belt), 4 ball to 1 tracer

0.2

2

cases of 210 rds .50 cal linked ammunition (two cans, each with a 105 round belt)

0.2

1

case of 500 rds 12 gauge Magnum buckshot ammunition (in five "30 cal" cans)

0.1

1

case of 2500 Stoner-style links for 5.56x45mm ammo, and 1800 M13 links for 7.62x51mm ammo, plus linker/delinker tools for each caliber

0.1

1

case of Morrow batteries:  280 MP-AA "camera batteries", 10 "radio batteries", and 2 "vehicle batteries"; total weight 12 kg

0.1

 

operations "A" - 3.0 cubic meters

quantity

item

volume

1

demolitions kit, minus the case of C-4

0.1

1

case of 30 M112 C-4 demolition blocks

0.1

1

case of 2 M183 demolition charges

0.1

1

case of nine Armbrust-300 anti-tank rocket launchers

0.4

1

case of twelve M371A1 90mm HEAT rounds

0.5

1

case of twelve M590E1 90mm cannister rounds

0.5

1

case of 21 HAFLA-35L incendiary launchers

0.5

1

case of 1 clip of M74 incendiary rockets for M202A1 flame weapon

0.1

2

cases of 6 M18A1 claymore mines (12 mines total)

0.2

1

case of 4 M16A1 anti-personnel land mines

0.1

4

cases of 2 M19 anti-tank mines (8 mines total)

0.4

 

 operations "C" - 1.0 cubic meters

quantity

item

volume

1

case of 72 empty Stoner system magazines

0.1

1

case of 120 empty Ingram M10 magazines

0.1

1

case of 48 empty M14 rifle magazines

0.1

1

case of 24 empty HP-35 pistol magazines

0.03

1

case of 30 M26A1 fragmentation "defensive" hand grenades

0.1

1

case of 16 M34 white phosphorus hand grenades

0.1

1

case of 16 AN-M8 white smoke hand grenades

0.1

1

case of 16 M7A3 tear gas hand grenades

0.1

1

case of 16 AN-M14 thermite hand grenades

0.1

1

case of 20 Mk3A2 explosive "offensive" hand grenades

0.1

1

case of 25 Mk 1 illuminating hand grenades

0.1

 

food - 1.0 cubic meters

quantity

item

volume

20

cases of LRP rations (each case is 5 boxes, 12 meals per box, 4.2 kg per box), total 1200 meals / 420 kg

1.0

 

 

Please let Jeff know what you think should be hauled away, or make a note here.

 

     The team decided to camp nearby, and spent the night undisturbed. Booth put up the AS-2975 antenna between a couple of trees, and listened to some distant CB transmissions from the west, and what seemed to be a Spanish-language "commercial" broadcast from the south.

 

Thursday, 18 August 2140

 

weather fog until 9 a.m., drizzle most of the day, brief thunderstorms at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

 

     Departing before the fog lifted, the Gull sped west along the shores, towards Mobile Bay. The area around Pensacola was, if anything, more destroyed than Panama City -- many nuclear weapons and hurricanes had worked hard at destroying the city (and Eglin Air Force Base nearby). The wreckage of a few oil platforms and tankers was bypassed on the beaches.

     There were a few primitive docks, fishing-net drying racks, and other signs of simple cultures, but no people were seen. The team picked some citrus fruits from trees in the forests bordering the beaches.

     Within a few kilometers of the mouth of Mobile Bay, some small fishing boats could be seen out the Gulf; the team left the beach and headed over the water to a random boat, at about 1 p.m.

     It was a two-man wooden craft, about 5 meters long, with a single mast and two cotton sails; one of the sails had the numerals "98" painted on it.

 

Mobile Bay fishing cutter

     Length on deck 4.5 meters, length over bowsprit 5.2 meters, beam 1.8 m, draft (centerboard raised) 0.25 m. Max displacement 750 kg, empty weight 210 kg. The mast is about 4.3 meters tall. Sails total 17 square meters (mainsail, staysail, jib, foresail). Capacity 6 persons or 550 kg of cargo. 

     Watertight cargo compartments are fitted ahead of the mast, and around the cockpit. They won't keep the boat entirely afloat, but they'll keep gear dry and make baling easier.

     A 2 to 4 HP outboard motor could be fitted, but this is rarely done.

     As a fishing boat, they usually have a crew of 2 persons.

 

     A bearded older man, and a beardless teenager, were the crew; they were wearing undyed cotton pants and tunics, and straw hats. They clearly had no intention of trying to evade the high-speed ... thing; and were obviously relieved when the hovercraft settled in the water nearby.

     The (and the other sailboats nearby) were fishermen from Mobile, and spoke only Spanish. Paula took over from Jeff in talking to them, since she had easily the most Spanish language skills on the team. About 5 kg of fish were sold to the team, for about 50 cents. The fishermen seemed friendly enough, and assured Paula that the team would be welcome in Mobile. Barely more than a thousand people lived there, apparently.

     Hovering into Mobile Bay, the Morrow team could see the rusted hulk of the battleship Alabama embedded in the sand on the western side of the bay.

     The current town had one long main street, parallel to the shore; there might have been 1,500 inhabitants. A few fishing boats could be seen along the narrow dock, or pulled up on the shore (most of them were out on the Gulf). There was a cargo schooner tied up along the dock; across her stern was the name Revolución Proletaria. A couple of old pickup trucks parked near a workshop; people were seen riding horses, or horse-drawn wagons. No electric lights or radio antennas were visible in the town or on the schooners. The most substantial building, a sort of baby version of a Foreign Legion fort, made from salvaged bricks and cinder blocks, had a sign:  El Arsenal Comunitaria. A cargo shed at one end of town kept a few dozen bales of cotton out of the weather.

     Flying from a flagstaff atop the arsenal was a flag:

 

the AMAL flag

 

     Carefully choosing an area with no fishing boats or structures, the Morrow team slid ashore and settled down at one of of the town's main street.

     A few simple-dressed townsfolk (white cotton pants and shirts, mostly) stepped up to speak with the team. Their native language was a dialect of South American Spanish -- Paula said they were probably Columbians or Venezuelans. The commandante, Ramon Garcia, greeted the team in reasonably good English. He invited them over to the taberna for a chat and some cool drinks.

 

  • agua fresca de remolacha :  with cucumber  and lime juice 

  • agau fresca de pepino :  with beets and lime juice  

  • horchata:  ground sesame seeds, vanilla and sugar 

  • batido:  a thick sort of a smoothie, made with fruit, sugar and milk (and ice when available)

  • papelón con limón:  sugar cane pulp, water and lime juice

  • light rum, at least 80 proof

  • agua de jamaica:  hibiscus tea, with sugar

     

     He explained that this was the Mobile Commune, part of the Alianza Mutuo de América Latina. This territory was a colony; most of the AMAL was located in South and Central America. AMAL was a socialist nation, with communes controlling the territories, industrial sectors, etc.; they did believe in private property for individuals. Technologically, they were at the mid-19th Century level, but without as much capacity as (say) 19th Century America (or Venezuela). The nation's main export to North America was petroleum, mostly to Mexico, and rum and rubber goods, sold north into the United States. This particular colony sent cotton, hardwoods, seafood, salvaged goods and tobacco products to the homeland; they weren't allowed to trade directly with Mexico. Alas, the exports did not include chickens, cows or pigs, although Garcia had heard of those animals -- they died out in the remote parts of the AMAL in his father's time, and hadn't been around in North America for "many, many years".

     The commandante was the only person visibly armed (he had a revolver in a hip holster).

     Some buildings:

 

  • el Arsenal Comunitaria:  armory, post office, jail and ayuntamiento (town hall) 

  • el Club Social:  the best drinking establishment in town. Various less fancy tabernas serve the fishermen.

  • la Posada Americana:  a sort of hostel for travelers. It has a bath, and separate men's and women's bunkrooms. There are seven or eight sailors (the crew of a schooner, mostly) staying here currently

  • la fonda:  a boarding-house or inn, with five private rooms for rent (though one is already taken). Senora Valdez, a widow, owns and operates it, along with a couple of maids and cooks.

  • el astillero:  the boat-building dock, with a simple marine railway and its own workshop. Some tools are powered by a belt system from a one-cylinder steam donkey engine.

  • el taller:  a workshop for mechanical repairs; the two pickup trucks are parked there. Some tools here are powered by a belt system from a small gasoline engine.

  • la Tienda Comunitaria:  the general store

  • la carnicería:  the butcher-shop

  • la fundidora:  smithy and foundry

  • la caballeriza:  the livery stable, where horses and wagons can be rented

  • el cobertizo de algodón:  the shed where cotton (and other goods) are stored

  • el aserradero:  a sawmill, powered by a gas engine (a primitive form of diesel engine, specifically)

  • la nevera:  an insulated cold storage building, with a swamp cooler. It's usually powered by a windmill, but has a diesel generator to power it when needed. Cold water is supplied to el Club Social from here, also.

  • la veleria:  sells rope, sails, and other marine supplies

  • la clinica:  a doctor and a couple of nurses work here; there's a simple surgery

  • la farmacia:  a small pharmacy

  • la escuela:  grade school 

  • los parque de bomberos:  the fire station. The the best-maintained motor vehicle in the town is within this building:  a 1950s CJ-3A jeep with a small pump and suction hoses, and a 750 liter water tank trailer.

  • el largo muelle the main pier

     

     And the schooner:

 

Revolución Proletaria

     A gaff-rigged schooner of 100 tons displacement (full load), built of wood, with dimensions of 24 meters length by 6.3 meters beam by 2.6 meters draft fully loaded. Empty, the ship has a displacement of 50 tons, and draws a half-meter less water. The hull is mostly 64mm thick, of mahogany and oak.

     Originally it was provided with a 28 HP motor, which gave her a speed of 4.5 knots under motor power alone; a 200 HP engine would give a speed of about 9 knots. Fuel usage about 25 liters per hour (with 200 HP engine); there's a 4500 liter fuel tank fitted. The ship has almost no electrical fittings, besides those needed for the engine. It carries a rowboat. A 400 liter fresh water tank is fitted; there is no evaporator. Diesel fuel costs $0.10 per liter in Veracruz; a full tank of fuel is thus $450 (very expensive).

     Crew for motor operations, 3 or 4 persons; if sailing short voyages, 5 or 6 persons; for a (say) long deep-ocean voyage entirely under sail, 10 persons.

     Navigational equipment:  compass, sounding line, log line, minute sand glass, map of the Gulf and Caribbean torn from a 20th Century Spanish-language school atlas. Total sail area with all four sails set:  220 square meters (about 430 fabric yards, which costs $645 new if 15 ounce cotton duck fabric). The vessel carries a rowboat.

     Forward is the crew quarters (capacity 12 persons) and head. Aft of the hold is the cockpit (la carlinga), 3 meters long and a bit less than 6 meters wide; the galley, dining table, and two convertible couch-beds are here. At the very stern is a low compartment with two bunks and some lockers.

     The main cargo hatch is 6 meters long and 3 meters wide. The cargo hold has a volume, under hatches, of 128 cubic meters.

     One important cargo item:  0.1 liters of 40% rum, per man per day. The ship normally carrys enough for 15 men for 40 days:  three 20-liter barrels.

     Water use per man per day is 3 liters if limited to just drinking and minimal cooking; 8 liters a day with more generous use in cooking, and very limited washing; and up to 100 liters per man per day if you do laundry, take showers, etc.

     Cost if sold on the Mississippi, as a used ship with a working ~200 HP diesel engine, about $8000. Currently the engine isn't working, however.

Hull armor value:  6 points

 

 

     One thing the team didn't find was a church ...but they did spot a few furtive markings on lintels and door frames.

     A bit of shopping, a nice meal, and baths made the team feel a lot better. Even so, they always kept one or two persons watching over the hovercraft. The few people who spoke English chatted a bit with the team after their dinner. While nobody said so outright, it became clear that originally the Mobile colony was settled by involuntary colonists.

     Over dinner, some chat revealed an interesting fact:  a group of five Arizona Rangers arrived at Mobile in early March; they were Tubbs (the leader), Holliday, Raccoon, Cooper, and Earp. They chartered the gaff-rigged schooner Victoria Socialista (along with a ten-man crew), and paid for many repairs and improvements. They had an armored car and a jeep. After a week or so of work, they sailed off in the schooner with their vehicles aboard.

     The Rangers visited Veracruz, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Caracas; they did a lot of trading. They finished their lease of the ship in Veracruz in May, and set off north through Mexico; the Victoria Socialista returned to Mobile before the end of that month. The other schooner at Mobile, the Revolución Proletaria, was repaired with the money paid by the Rangers. 

     Both schooners had made a couple of trips between Mobile, Veracruz, and Caracas since then.

 

Friday, 19 August 2140

 

weather up to 90 F, very humid

 

     The team left Mobile after breakfast, and sped west along the coast. The 7 meter rise in sea level had inundated the southern end of Louisiana.

     All three Strategic Petroleum Reserve sites in Louisiana were under water. Offshore, the rusty stumps of hundreds of oil drilling and production platforms dotted the Gulf. The mouth of the Mississippi River had moved west more than a hundred kilometers.

     580 kilometers of travel brought the team to what had been the West Hackberry reserve, near Lake Charles ... they camped on the new shore, several kilometers north of where Lake Charles had been.

 

Saturday, 20 August 2140

 

weather high temperature 76 F, scattered clouds ... a nice day.

 

     Just after dawn, the Gull lifted off the beach, and buzzed further west. Port Arthur, Texas was a jumble of concrete and rusty metal with lots of perching gulls; the new shore was 25 kilometers north, at the edge of Beaumont. The rusted hulks of tankers and other ships were littered here and there in the shallow water.

     The "Big Hill" oil storage facility was only a few hundred meters inland from the surf; two large water-filled craters marked the site, with a faint sheen of oil on the water. A couple of half-megaton nuclear weapons had detonated as ground bursts here; the pumps, pipelines, pavement, and buildings had been instantly destroyed in November of 1989. There was no sign that anyone had seriously disturbed the facility since the Atomic War.

     A bit further west, Galveston Bay and Trinity Bay had become part of the Gulf. The team found a camp site five kilometers east of the Trinity River, near the town of Liberty, and prepared to spend a couple of days on reconnaissance. A few ranches within 10 or 15 kilometers were selected for visual observation.

     The team's camp was mostly surrounded by live oak trees, with some pecan and chittamwood trees mixed in; brush and shrubs included mesquite, sugarberry, blackbrush and sweet acacia. Quail and deer were encountered a lot.

     Jake stretched out his 8 meter antenna between a couple of trees.

 

 

21 - 22 August 2140

 

weather high temperature about 90 F, low temperature 75 F, humidity average 75%, scattered clouds -- kind of hot and humid. A bit of evening drizzle on the 22nd.

 

     The team watched the roads and local ranches with their (one) pair of binoculars, the scope on Turner's rifle, the night-vision scope and goggles, and the laser rangefinder. Jake monitored radio channels (and cursed the team's lack of a scanner); the other four members of the team took turns, in pairs, scouting or resting and guarding at the hovercraft.

     The ranches had herds of horses, along with some goats. Farm crops included cotton, sorghum, wheat, and corn.

 

the purple line is the team's approach to Liberty; the X is their camp site;

the circle-and-X symbols represent the ranches scouted by the team during their stay.

JSC was the Johnson Space Center. The black outline is the 20th Century shore.

Oil exploration and production rigs, and pipelines, are shown in the Gulf. The "oil drops" show

the locations of strategic petroleum reserves.

 

Visual Surveillance

     The four ranches each had several stables, a big "main house", a couple of barracks, and several cottages. There were no telephone or utility lines connecting them; the main roads were graded and oiled (so, not technically "paved"). Windmills and diesel generators provided electrical power; each house had one or two radio antennas.

     Each ranch had 50 to 100 persons living there, with a few Savants:  the Homelord (an older man), another Savant adult married male, and 5 to 10 wives and children of those two men. The rest were "hands" -- servants, field hands, some children, and a few armed guards. Three-quarters of the hands were men, including all the guards; female hands did the cooking, cleaning, gardening, teaching, and other chores "around the ranch"; the field hands were all men. Some of the hands were in family groups, living in the cottages.

     Most of the hands wore un-dyed cotton or linen, with sandals and straw hats ... not too different from the ordinary farmers around Mobile. The guards wore khaki-colored clothing, cowboy hats and boots. The Savant men wore "Western wear", and grey hoods with the Savant symbol on the forehead. Savant women wore knee-length dresses in colorful fabrics, and broad straw hats.

     The guards rode horses, and carried muzzle-loading rifles; it was hard to tell if they were keeping the hands in, or watching for trouble from outside. Part of the guards' duties were overseeing the training of Savant boys. None of the other hands were armed,  none seemed to be shackled. The adult Savant men carried holstered pistols, and what look to be semi-automatic assault rifles of an unfamiliar type. Savant boys above 12 were also carrying pistols.

     The hands were definitely under the control of the Savants; no corporal punishment was observed, but at least one farm had a post with shackles attached ...

     Male Savant children above the age of 6 were getting a lot of exercise or training; they were out riding horses, running, climbing ropes, wrestling, fighting, target shooting (with pistols and muzzle-loading rifles), etc.

     The buildings were mostly wood, with some cinder block or concrete sections -- certainly not fortresses. They did have shutters on their windows, and storm cellars, but that might have been as much due to hurricanes as anything. In the main house there were a few electric lights (including one outside of the front door), but the barracks, cottages, stables etc. were lit by lanterns (probably burning kerosene). There was a source of motor fuel at each range -- a rack of 55 gallon drums, or a small tank on stilts -- not too far from the garage. The diesel generator was also in the garage. There were laundry lines outside, but the main house probably had a water heater and some other conveniences.

     Horses were being raised for milk, meat and riding; the stables held a couple dozen riding horses at each ranch. The team didn't see all the motor vehicles at all four farms; one seen was a 1950s Ford pickup, reasonably rust-free, and the other was a jeep-like thing, dusty and dented but oddly futuristic. There were tracks from a farm tractor seen in the dirt.

     A few cricket pumps were seen slowly nodding in the distance. The team did not approach the town of Liberty itself, on the banks of the Trinity River; but got the impression that a few hundred people lived there, and the railway line ended there.

     Ethnically, there was no detectable difference between the Savants and the hands. Mostly sort-of European or Latin American, with a few lighter haired folk thrown in.

     On the 22nd, a battered white gas-powered van with the Savant symbol visited each of the ranches, delivering mail and packages. The 2 men (driver and guard) in the van had Savant hoods.

 

Radio Surveillance

     The Savants used a combination of CB radios and simple AM radios to communicate by voice. There were no commercial transmitters detected in the area. Some conversations (not between those who knew each other well) started with a simple number-letter combination -- some sort of day-code authentication. There were a few indications ("We'd better discuss that in person - not on the radio") of a communications security protocol.

     The language used was English, with a few more Spanish slang words thrown in than you'd find in 20th Century Texas. The accent wasn't strongly "Texan" though.

     From what you can tell, only the adult Savant males used the radios. Most of the conversations were farm management topics:

 

  • "Sam says the truck will come by on Wednesday for those colts."

  • "My hands need to borrow a pump; the one on the far side of the creek died yesterday. It's getting pretty hot out there."

  • "Can y'all keep an eye out for my dog Pepper? I'd be mighty pleased. That damned scientific hound keeps chasing after trucks on the road."

  • "Gonna load 20 head of horses onto the train bound for San Antonio next week."

     

     A few were political-economic:

 

  • "Homelord Franz is trying to convince the Foundry to start up battery production again. San Antonio isn't going to listen to him, though."

  • "Some cadets at the Verge forts near Arid City got a big trigger-happy last week; kern Jackson is gonna have their hides this time, no matter how many generals they are related to."

  • "The Guard claims a couple of students in the Brainery are secretly scientists."

  • "If the Farms are gonna keep their hands buzzed, of course there will be accidents. I don't hold with it, and never dose my own hands. They think the hands won't need as much watching -- well, maybe not, but they just won't be motivated."

     

     And there were social calls:

 

  • "Myself and my wives would be right pleased to attend your party, Homelord."

  • "The chico's about at the age to be sent off to the Brainery; he's a smart tyke."

  • "General Grayson has three wives expecting children -- what was the man thinking? He needs to lay off the biovax. Zeal be praised, though."

  • "The Farms' gotta understand that I need hands, too; they can send down another dozen after the harvests, and still have plenty for Freedom Day."

 

     Half-a-dozen ranks (social and military) were mentioned:  student, cadet, captain, homelord, kern, and general. Organizations mentioned were the Brainery, the Army, the Farms, the Foundry, and the Guard.

     The terms "science", "scientific", and "scientist" seemed to be common profanities.

     San Antonio was mentioned several times; it seems to be important, probably the capital. "Arid City" is apparently the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

 

     Around sunset on the 22nd, Jake was monitoring the shortwave bands, and picked up a signal at about 7.175 MHz (the general high frequency channel for the Morrow Project). It was Roman Mitchell, a member of Recon Team R-176, currently in Montana! His team, in a V-150, had been awake for a month or so (since early July); they had also been in touch with a Science team on the west coast, which was heading to join them. R-176's vehicle couldn't be driven -- something about all four wheels being broken. They were making progress at a settlement near Billings, and invited R-36 to join them!

     Jake and his team briefly looked over their maps, and said, "Sure, why not?" The Yellowstone River flows past Billings, into the Missouri in North Dakota; and the Missouri meets the Mississippi at St. Louis! Thousands of kilometers, but still ... hoverable!

     Roman said he'd have another team member come onto the radio in two days, on the 24th, at about the same time.

    

Tuesday, 23 August 2140

 

weather high temperature 93 F. Fog from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m., with a thunderstorm from 4 to 5 a.m., and another brief thunderstorm around 1 p.m.. The rest of the day was mostly cloudy, hot and humid, visibility about 10 km.

 

     By dawn, the team was hovering south from their campsite, onto the Gulf before anyone could see them. They retraced their route back to the new mouth of the Mississippi, and investigated the new channels a bit. A sad tangle of high-tension power lines, bridge and barge parts, trees, and other man-made and natural debris made up the banks; all of the navigation and flood control structures had vanished long ago.

 

Wednesday, 24 August 2140

 

weather high temperature 89 F, average humidity 88%. Scattered clouds most of the day; about 0.4" of rain in 25 minutes around 2 p.m.

 

     Proceeding up the Mississippi, the team made good time. The banks were littered with debris from flooding; this included pieces of (22nd Century) houses and bridges, some rafts and parts of wooden boats, and even the rusted boiler of a steamboat. No permanent structures were seen on either side of the river south of Port Gibson, at least. Without human intervention, the river's course had again become very twisty, with many loops making the route at least twice as long as it would have been in the 20th Century. A few times, the team hovered over a hundred yards or less of sandy terrain, through some brush and driftwood, to cut off ten kilometers of river course.

     A detectable amount of radioactive material was found in the river water -- some from the destroyed Grand Gulf reactor, and some from other reactors further upstream. The team had plenty of drinking water options, however. A moderate amount of other pollutants was found, but nothing very alarming.

     South of Grand Gulf itself, the Gull was hovering briskly along after a brief rain shower when a heavy steel cable was pulled out of the water, in an attempt to stop the craft; steel posts on either riverbank braced the 600 meter cable. Two long-tail boats roared to life, one on each bank, and headed out to intercept the hovercraft! Each boat was 5 meters long on the waterline, and held three river pirates; each boat carried a sort of "wall gun" on a pintle.

 

a 10 meter long-tail boat

 

     The long-tail boats fired on the Morrow team, and missed; fortunately, Joseph was able to run down the boats and speed off. leaving the boats capsized and the pirates splashing in the river.

     Only a couple of miles further north, Jeff spotted the upperworks of a steamboat in a bayou; it was about 200 meters from the main river course. The team decided this might be a "pirate base" and sped north for a couple more minutes along the Mississippi, and then settled into the water, drifted back south, and motored much more quietly into the bayou which held the steamboat.

     The steamboat itself was about 18 meters long; the pilothouse had been burned out a week or so ago, and there were some bullet strike marks on the sides of the main deck cabin. It was moored against a small barge, or houseboat, which was in turn tied up to the shore. A couple of 4 meter long-tail boats were tied up to the barge, as well. Jeff and Turner jumped ashore a hundred meters or so before the pirate base, and made their way through the dense greenery.

     The pirates at the barge had clearly heard the noises of the ambush, and were already alert; when the hovercraft roared to full life, they took cover. Paula and Jake let off some not-very-effective (but attention-getting) bursts from the machine gun, while Jeff and Turner approached the plank leading onto the barge. Jeff attempted some tear-gas grenade fu, but was frustrated by the short range and some bad marksmanship. Turner was far more effective with his M21 ...

     Despite a brief attempt by a pirate to use a hostage as cover, the Project team quickly took over the base. One of the long-tail boats was destroyed, and the barge sank; the steamboat and other long-tail boat were untied before the barge settled to the (not very deep) bottom. One pirate had surrendered, and the hostage was rescued -- a young "steamer" woman named Jennifer, who was the only survivor of the crew of the captured steamboat.

     Two items were recovered from the barge before it sank -- a sawed-off double-barrel 12 gauge shotgun, along with a bandolier of 20 paper-hull buckshot shells; and an old floor safe.

 

small floor safe

 

     60 cm on a side, and 70 cm tall; the walls are 15 cm thick. It weighs 130 kg. Closed with a combination lock, which sets three locking bars (two on the hinge side, three on the "open" side) of the door. The interior is only 40 cm tall, and 30 cm wide and deep.

     Even if the hinges are burned off, the locking bars will keep the door fastened shut.

     Armor value (to penetrate one side) about 45 or 50 points, depending on quality of steel.

 

     Concerned that the pirates at the ambush site or otherwise nearby would have heard the barge battle, the team loaded the un-opened safe and the prisoner into the remaining long-tail boat, gave Jennifer the shotgun, and told her to follow them towards Memphis. Jennifer proved adept at handling the long-tail boat, which easily kept up with the Gull.

     After the team passed Grand Gulf, they pulled along the shore to check on Jennifer and her boat; she said with a calm expression that the pirate prisoner had fallen over the side. Any bloodstains on the bottom of the boat were quietly ignored.

     The team headed north again, looking for an overnight camping spot. Jennifer knew of several, and the team took her advice and headed for a small island on a bayou.

     As the sun set, the team made camp, and Jake sweated and cursed getting his antenna up and ready for the scheduled contact with R-176.

 

Map of the Gulf Coast for R36; brown oil drops are the Strategic Petroleum Reserve sites.

The red X shows the team's location at the end of the second episode.

Orange titles are only approximate information gained from "locals".

The dotted green line is the border of the AMAL colony around Mobile.

 

Comments (2)

jeffbenefiel@att.net said

at 10:03 am on Aug 28, 2016

What are all those green hash mark lines and circles offshore?

Michael said

at 11:08 am on Aug 28, 2016

"Oil exploration and production rigs, and pipelines, are shown in the Gulf. "

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