New Detroit, as it was christened by its founder, a man with the curious moniker of Franklin Jefferson Ford, was at its core an abandoned industrial center built along the Mississippi. This was the spiritual capital of the Brotherhood For New American prosperity.
It was a mecca for the desperate and discarded people who yearned to resurrect a glorious past that never was. The patriot shaman who led their flocks to New Detroit promised they only had to demonstrate they knew how to live and work in the warehouses and factories. Only then would god return them the machinery and expertise to begin industrial America a new.
Despite it being the new Eden of industrial might, the city the Brotherhood built was very agrarian. The warehouses were converted into indoor farms, and the highrises into dormitories. Where the enigmatic Frankly Jefferson Ford ruled like a king.
His recreating of the American dream, having amounted to nothing more than some people living in a shanty town, might not have made far-off policymakers so nervous if New Detroit hadn't provided sanctuary for the soldiers of the Mormon Succession. Then again, if their leader Franklin Jefferson Ford had not been publicly warned not to, it might never have been an issue.
This is the story of the botched attempt to kill the King of New Detroit that ended in tragedy.
It was just after 5 am. The opaque night sky was lightning up into a purple tapestry streaked with the orange glow of the ascending sun. The world was just beginning to come to life. The birds sang, and weary, nocturnal animals crept back to their nests alongside the highway. Only in the distance could one hear the muffled growl of armored personnel carriers blended with the rhythmic chopping of helicopter blades.
The convoy appeared over the horizon speeding south towards the former industrial ruins known as New Detroit. The troop carriers were filled with national guardsmen equipped with crowd control gear, tear gas, and riot shields. They wore heavy body armor to protect their bodies from makeshift weapons.
Just above them in small black helicopters with the logo "Hawk Wood" painted across their tails were mercenaries the guardsman were being sent to support. They were equipped head to toe in tactical gear and carrying assault weapons. The guardsmen weren't told what the mercenaries would be doing when they landed, only that keeping the crowds at bay was up to them. Information on the mission was scant. One revealing detail was the official codename for the operation "decapitation."
The lead troop carrier was driven by master Sergeant Vickers and in the passenger seat was PFC Kraft. Vickers was a fifteen-year veteran of the guard who had been hoping to retire. Still, manpower necessities meant putting it off for "just a little while longer."
Kraft was going into his second year, just 20 years old. So far, his military experience consisted of following bomb-detecting drones in a supply truck. IEDs were becoming more and more common on America's interstate highways. In 18 months, he'd encountered these makeshift bombs twice. The first time the drone spotted it in time to harm no fowl. The second time one of the sensors must have been a little dusty because it glided right past a bomb that blew off the door of a Humvee right in front of the truck Kraft was driving.
That's why when he learned he and Vickers were going to be in the lead vehicle, he was a little more nervous than usual. He sat quietly, his left leg shaking as his bloodshot eyes darted across the road over and over.
Vicker's, on the other hand, didn't seem so apprehensive. He chatted away like any other work day, talking about his wife and commenting on the scenery. They zoomed by scattered groups of day laborers walking along the side of the highway towards the first line of checkpoints outside the city.
"I know the military kinda sucks, but it could be worse," Vickers muttered.
Kraft shook his head "huh?"
Vickers grinned. "You could be in the same boat as them," he pointed towards a small cluster of tents in the tall grass.
The helicopters suddenly raced ahead of the ground forces. "They're in a hurry," Vickers mused.
"They're supposed to try and take them alive," Kraft replied.
Vickers snorted, "Yeah, right. By my estimation, these motherfuckers have about 20 minutes to live."
New Detroit was ringed by a metallic wall or rusted-out cars and scrap metal. The road narrowed at the entrance was flanked by a dilapidated city bus. The APCS passed through the passage into the claustrophobic confines of the makeshift citadel. The tight road was flanked on either side by office buildings and warehouses. The walls were painted with giant murals depicting the towering benevolent leader of New Detroit. In one, he was holding a sledgehammer over his shoulder with the words "The time will come!" painted under his muscular frame.
How similar this was to the actual Franklin Jefferson Ford. Kraft couldn't really be sure. The other walls were also crammed with portraits, slogans, and fluttering flags. The words "Liberty Reborn" ran above a depiction of men, women, and children working side by side on an assembly line. They were collages of patriotic iconography blended with depictions of the bygone industrial age splattered with the lexicon of the desperate. "Hope, Rise again, One day!" these words were the makeup that covered the shanty town and made it into a sanctuary for the discarded and delusional.
Pieces of chainlink fences surrounded many buildings, and rusted sections lay in the middle of the road and an assortment of other debris. THE APCS slowed to a crawl, and the helicopters raced ahead
Kraft could see them peering down from the empty window frames on the upper levels. It was eerily empty save for a few people scurrying around the corner as the vehicles rumbled past. Chewing on his thumbnail, Kraft saw movement in the rearview mirror. It was the old bus at the entrance moving astride the road.
"Are they sealing us in?" he asked worriedly.
Before Vickers answered, they saw people rallying around a man standing at the intersection shouting through a megaphone;
"Citizens! patriots! New Detroit is being invaded!" He repeated his call to arms as identically as a recording
"Citizens! Patriots! New Detroit is being invaded.
The caller locked eyes with Kraft as they passed.
At the next corner, there was another man with a megaphone making similar proclamations but noticeably more frantic and leading a bigger crowd.
"New Detroit is under attack! They have come to take our children!" He shouted in all directions.
Vickers clenched his teeth. "Alright, this is getting kinda fucked up," he muttered.
A solitary brick bounced off the passenger's widow. Quickly followed by another, then another until a torrent of debris was raining on them.
The convoy turned a corner, and at the end of the path was a large factory ringed with a barbed wire fence and topped with a huge fluttering American flag.
"Alright, here we go," Vicker said, pressing down the pedal. Their APC crashed through the gate, and the guards out front immediately ran while the helicopters touched down on the roof.
The APC came to a sudden stop shaking up the troops inside. A few seconds later, the doors opened.
"Go, go, go!"
Private Lynch was one of the first ones out. Inside the steel cocoon, they couldn't hear all the loudspeakers or the whirling of the helicopters. The opaque night sky had transitioned into a bright grey morning.
Lynch stopped and looked around for a moment. Towering above him was a mural of an eagle with razor talons. Its sharp-edged wings spanned the length of the building, and its eyes-focused eyes made the bird of prey seem like it was descending on a hapless victim.
"Lynch, get in line!" his CO yelled.
Lynch readied his shield and hurried into position. Sudden bursts of automatic gunfire echoed from the building behind them. Suddenly the name Operation Decapitation made a lot of sense to Private Lynch. It was answered by a few rifle shots, but they were quickly silenced.
More and more people were coming out of the surrounding buildings, and just a few meters away, someone ignited a fire. The flames were drawing more people. Bricks and bottles started to fly. The guardsmen raised their shields in self-defense. Lynch was just quick enough to block and brick sailing towards his head.
More and more people were gathering around the flames of the trash fire. It must have been a rallying signal. Lynch wondered if maybe these zealots had been more prepared than they thought.
They were starting to move in closer. They were becoming bolder and edging closer to the line. Some would run up and hit their shields before retreating into the crowd.
Inside the target building, Hawkwood commander Richard Levin and his men were checking the bodies of the people they had just "neutralized." Not one of them appeared to be the primary target. There had been 20 in all, and they expected there were still more hiding. Their blood was splattered on the walls and pooling on the floor.
The mercenaries were running facial recognition scans, but so far, all had been negative. Rich's radio crackled. "God Father, this is Alpa 1; that's a negative on the ID check. I repeat that is a negative."
"Damit," Rich huffed, frustratedly kicking one of the corpses. "All units keep combing the building," he ordered.
While Levin and his men were examining the bodies and Lynch's unit was guarding the perimeter. Helicopter pilot Captain Mason was circling overhead. He could see more and more fires igniting below and the crowds concealed from the guardsmen on the other side of the buildings were growing larger and larger. There were packs of several hundred people concentrating at 4 points around the compound.
A flair streaked past MAson's chopper, and the crowds started to converge on the target buildings. Mason radioed Levin, "This is Hawkeye 1, God Father, be advised there are crowds of several hundred hostels converging on your position."
Levin's stopped in his tracks. "Hawkeye, please repeat, did you say several hundred?"
"Yes, sir," Mason replied.
"Do you think the guard can hold the perimeter?"
Mason thought before he answered the question. "I don't think so, sir."
Rich didn't hesitate. "All units, this is God Father. Prepare for extraction ASAP!"
Lynch was swinging his baton at the head of a young man who threw his body into the riot shield. The waves of human bodies were crashing into the guard lines. Slowly but surely pushing them back, eroding them. People were still standing far in the back, raining down bricks on the guardsmen and even on their own brethren, who happened to be close enough. A brick smashed into the soldier's helmet next to Lynch, and he fell to the ground. Lynch tried to get him to his feet, but they charged him. His comrades tried to back him up. And they swung at the people grabbing at the legs of the fallen soldier.
More bricks thudded against the street, pushing the guards back, and a swarm of them grabbed the soldier's limp body, and he disappeared into the mob.
"Stay in your lines! Stay in your lines!" An officer shouted.
As the guardsmen slowly moved back, they left battered bodies in front of them. There were people face down in their own blood being trampled by the onrushing hoard.
There was the thump of a canister of tear gas fired in front of Lynch, followed by a few more. The metal canisters broke open on the concrete and spewed their choking, burning smog.
"Keep in formation! Their commanders urged them as the gas settled over them like a mist. It gave the guardsmen some reprieve, but people charged through the shroud. Screaming from the burn but still wanting to take their shot.
They had been pushed back to within only a few feet of their APCs. The transport choppers were descending, and the wind from their blades dispersed the gas as they landed at their designated distraction points.
"We've gotta get out of here!" someone shouted.
The guardsmen were against the wall watching the mercenaries above them board the helicopters on the roof.
Lynch panicked, "Are they leaving us?!"
Lynch could see their lines had been thinned out. Not everyone had made it out of the gas cloud. As it dispersed, he could see the body of his comrades lying among the trampled bodies of the Brotherhood zealots. A man wearing a shirt tied around his mouth and nose ran towards Lynch swinging a golf club. With no thought, just movement Lynch snapped his baton into the man's jaw, sending him to the floor and spitting out his own teeth.
"We gotta get back into the APCS!"
There were guardsmen franticly banging on the tanks begging for the drives to open the doors, but the crowds were surrounding them now too.
Panicking, Kraft turned to Vickers, "We gotta get the fuck outta here! Hit the gas hit the gas!"
"We'll crush them!" Vickers yelled back.
"Just go, just go!" Wild-eyed Kraft grabbed the wheel, reached his foot over, and pounded into the accelerator, causing the APC to roll into the crowd.
The Hawkwood helicopters were in the air now. Leaving the national guardsmen to their fate. They were not, after all not, employees of Hawkwood. Their contract was for the termination of the Brotherhood's commanders. Even though Franklin Jefferson Ford had not been among them, they would still be paid for the effort.