tagRomanceEast Meets West Pt. 01 Ch. 04

East Meets West Pt. 01 Ch. 04


I had told Jiao that even if the Chinese, or the traitor that sold out the location of the safe house, found our hidden valley, it would take at least two, or probably three weeks.

It actually took 13 days.

We had just finished breakfast one morning when Jiao suddenly jumped up. Her face turned white as snow, and she blurted out, "They're here!"

I didn't even bother asking who "they" were, or if she was sure, rather I only asked "How many?"

"A bunch of men," was all she could offer.

About 30 seconds later, the alarms started sounding from the computer room.

We ran into the computer room just in time to see three SUVs pull up to the chains blocking access to the property.

Five guys got out of each vehicle, and 14 were Chinese, while one was white. The white guy was about six feet, four inches tall, and probably didn't weigh more than150 pounds.

Thanks to the cameras, and parabolic microphones, we could see and hear everything they were discussing.

A couple of the Chinese guys wanted to cut the chains and drive on, while some others were concerned if they did that, we might be able to hear them coming -- especially considering how badly rutted the road was. An SUV driving over the ruts was going to make a lot of noise, so it was a legitimate concern.

They finally decided to walk, but would take everything -- including all the plastic explosives -- they had brought with them.

I looked at Jiao, and she was looking back at me.

We had actually discussed this very possibility a few days earlier when she asked me just how safe our hideout was.

As I told her, while it might actually be able to withstand the blast from a near direct atomic explosion, thanks to modern weapons of warfare, it could probably be breached in a matter of hours.

Modern plastic explosives were infinitely more powerful than anything that had existed when the basement had been built, other than a nuclear explosion.

If they started using charges against the ceiling of the basement -- well it would hold for a while but not forever. Especially if they knew how to shape the charges so the blast would be more directional.

Jiao and I had discussed the best defensive positions, and I will admit I was somewhat conflicted. The road the Chinese men were on gradually narrowed, and both sides of the ground starting quickly getting higher. Just before they reached the valley, the passage the road and creek ran through was only about 75 feet wide, and on one side the mountain was several thousand feet high, while the other side was about 1,000 feet high.

They would find themselves coming through a bottleneck, and I could probably take out half of the force, but there weren't a lot of secure firing positions for me. I would be at my most vulnerable if I tried to take them on at the bottleneck.

If I let them come on into the valley, then I had hundreds of well-concealed firing positions, but they also had a valley that was almost half-a-mile wide to hide in.

Earlier I had made the statement that there was no way one man, no matter how good he might be with a sniper rifle, could take on a large group of well-armed men, especially if he was on unfamiliar ground.

Well, number one I was now on ground that I was very familiar with.

And number two, I wasn't alone. I had Jiao who could follow the movements of all the men through the extensive system of cameras, and could even hear their conversations if they were fairly close to the camera.

The most important thing was to hit them hard at the beginning, and then keep them off balance.

I grabbed my sniper rifle, my silenced Beretta, and my Heckler & Koch UMP pistol, and Jiao went up with me to the cabin. Before leaving she kissed me, and told me if I didn't come back safe and sound she would make my afterlife miserable!

Oh, and before we left the basement I sent an e-mail to Colonel James, and gave him our coordinates. In the e-mail I wrote that we were under attack by a large force of Chinese men, and one very tall and skinny white guy.

I climbed the sides of one of the mountains encircling the valley, and made sure I was completely concealed. Jiao was very helpful in that regard since she could see me from a number of cameras. She was also keeping me informed of the movements of the MSS men.

I was heartened to hear Jiao tell me they only had two men walking about 50 feet in front of the others, and the others were all in a group. If they were being that sloppy, or overconfident, then it only made my job easier.

Jiao had provided a running commentary on their movements, so I was not surprised to see the first two men come out of the woods by the same path Jiao and I had first used. After they had spread out some, the main body of men came out of the woods, and they were walking close together.

Many, many years earlier I had watched an old, old movie about Sergeant Alvin York starring Gary Cooper. Sgt. York had been awarded the Medal of Honor for leading a handful of men during World War I and capturing 32 machine guns, killing 28 Germans, and taking 132 other Germans prisoner. The name of the movie was simply, "Sergeant York."

I didn't know how historically accurate the movie was, but in one scene Sgt. York sees a line of German troops firing on his men from a trench. The trench angled backward, so the first man was about a foot in front of, and two or three feet to the side of the next man, and so forth all the way to the end of the trench. That meant the first man in the trench could not actually see the person closest to him, and the second man could not see the third man, all the way back.

York was an excellent marksman, and he started returning fire, but deliberately started firing at the rear most end of the trench. Since the next guy did not know his buddy to his left had been shot, he just kept shooting. Eventually York killed nearly all the Germans.

Finally, however, the Germans who were left threw down their weapons and surrendered.

I had often wondered if such a thing was even possible, and now I had the opportunity to try.

Just as I was about to start shooting, Jiao said, in an incredibly realistic Clint Eastwood voice: "Get three coffins ready." That, of course, is from the movie, "Fistful of Dollars."

Like Sgt. York, I began with the furthermost guy to the rear, then as each was shot, moved forward. In the first nine seconds I hit six of the Chinese.

Most of the remaining men dropped to the ground, but two started running. One guy was running back the way they came, so I quickly dropped him, then shot the other runner. Since he was running, I had to lead him slightly, but he also fell.

Less than 30 seconds into the fight, and I had killed or wounded over half of the attacking force.

After that, all I had to do was be patient, and wait for Jiao to tell me where the MSS men were moving.

In the next 15 minutes, I had two more hits, and was waiting for another man to move out from behind a rock. Jiao had told me exactly where he was hiding, "behind Pussy Lips," but all I could see was the toe of one boot.

After waiting for him to move, well, hell, I shot him in the toes.

No doubt shocked, he stood up -- and quickly fell down from a bullet to the brain.

By now, 11 combatants were down, with five more to go.

Three of the men tried to make a run for it, back the way they came, but before any of them had run 50 feet, all three were down.

That left two, including the white guy.

Now, the white guy and one of the Chinese guys threw out their weapons and raised their hands over their head.

I yelled for both to start walking towards the cabin. By the time they were halfway there, I had them stop and start taking their clothes off. I wanted to make sure they weren't hiding any other weapons.

Both men started removing their shirts, but then the Chinese guy pulled out a hidden pistol and started firing in my general direction. Not the smartest thing I have ever seen anyone do. He was dead before he fired three shots.

The white guy practically ripped all his clothes off, until he was naked. I then yelled for him to start walking closer to the cabin, and had him stop about 50 feet away.

Jiao choose that moment to continue the Clint Eastwood dialogue from Fistful of Dollars: "My mistake . . . four coffins."

I told Jiao I was coming in, but had her quickly check all the cameras to make sure none of the other Chinese men had moved. When she assured me they hadn't I yelled at the white guy not to move, since my partner also had him covered. That wasn't true, of course, since "my partner," was in the basement, but he had no way to know that.

It took about 15 minutes for me to climb down from my position and walk most of the way to the cabin.

I was still about 50 feet away, when the door opened and Jiao walked out.

She wasn't holding any weapon, and started walking towards the white guy. I yelled for her to stop, but he didn't. She kept walking until she was only about five feet from him.

I am trying to close the distance between us and keep him covered at the same time. Since I wasn't watching the ground, I stepped into a small hole, and went flying face first into the dirt.

A little stunned I jumped back up, but had lost the Heckler & Koch UMP pistol and sniper rifle.

I could hear Jiao, in a very angry voice, asking him why he had betrayed his country, and her, by telling MSS where the safe house was.

This guy was well over a foot taller than Jiao, and I am sure he thought if he could grab her that he could use her as a human shield against me.

As soon as the guy began to move, the incredible happened.

Jiao leaped straight up in the air until she was higher up than he was tall, then one foot lashed out, catching him squarely in the side of the head.

I knew his neck was broken before he even hit the ground.

I ran to Jiao and held her, then asked "Why?"

"I was afraid you would take him prisoner," Jiao said.

"I owed Sam and Betty, at the safe house, and the three guards to make sure he didn't leave here alive," she explained.

That was how I found out Jiao was a fifth-degree black belt in Chinese wushu, which is usually incorrectly called Kung-Fu here.

Jiao and I just held each other for a few minutes, then I asked her to run downstairs and get my cell phone and battery.

After putting the battery back in, I called the number I had for Colonel James. Since we were not on a secure line, we both had to be a little circumspect with what we were saying.

When the Colonel answered, I was a little shocked to actually hear what he sounded like.

The scrambled calls always distorted his voice, so I really didn't know what he sounded like.

After using certain code words that would positively identify both of us, I asked the Colonel if he had received my message.

He said yes, and that help was on the way.

"I don't want to brag, but I found some really good, really special people to help," he said.

Again, since we were not on a secure line, I knew he was sending me a message hidden in his words.

When he said "brag," I understood he meant Fort Bragg, the massive army base in North Carolina.

"Really good, really special people," I had no doubt meant Delta Force, the Army's equivalent to the Navy's Seals, or the Marine's Force Recon.

"Tell them to take their time," I explained.

"All the heavy lifting has been done, and the biggest thing I need now is help in taking out all the trash," I said.

I knew the Colonel would understand that the MSS agents were all dead.

"How many bags of trash?" he asked.

"Fifteen," I answered.

There was a prolonged silence.

"Did I understand that you already have 15 bags of trash that need to be picked up?" he asked. I could hear the surprise in his voice.

"That's right, but I had some really good help," I answered, and smiled at Jiao. She smiled back.

He told me to hold on for a minute, then came back several minutes later.

"Your help should be there in about two hours," the Colonel said.

We exchanged good-byes and I ended the call.

And took the battery out again.

Jiao raised an eyebrow as she looked at me.

"I might have spent too much time around Rutledge," I told her, "but suddenly I don't trust the government any more than he did. I trust Colonel James, but he also has to report to his superiors."

"What do you want to do?" she asked.

I told Jiao I thought I might have figured out where the second shelter was, if it actually existed.

I asked if she could erase everything on all the computers, so that no one, no matter how good they were, could ever retrieve the information.

Jiao actually said that while it might be possible, the only real way of ensuring no one could ever access the information was to take the hard drives out of the computers, so I told her to go ahead and get started on that.

She said it would take about 15 minutes, so while she was busy with that I began hauling out all the weapons and ammo I could carry, and ran and put them in our SUV.

Then I ran back and grabbed as much food, canned and frozen as I could carry and put it in the SUV.

By now Jiao had finished, and helped carry some food as well.

I also grabbed several large boxes of pepper, and started sprinkling it inside the basement and cabin.

"In case they bring dogs," I explained, "the pepper will ruin their sense of smell. Saw it on an old movie."

One thing I had never understood was why there was even a chicken house on the property. While it is not at all unusual to find old, dilapidated chicken houses anywhere in the mountains, they are usually somewhere close to a house. In the old days, the family living in the house would take care of the chickens until they were large enough to take to a chicken processing plant.

But Rutledge told me his mother's family had owned all the land around here for well over 100 years, and that until he built the cabin, there had not been any house here at all.

No house, no one living in the valley, so why was there a chicken house?

Jiao and I began walking around the chicken house, and I asked her to try to use her ESP to see if she could sense anything.

"I know you said you can't control it, or make it work when you want it to, but just try to relax and see if you can sense anything," I advised her.

We walked completely around the chicken house, then went inside. But we could not find any kind of entrance to a buried underground bunker.

We finally walked back outside, and started widening our search area. The back of the collapsed part of the house was only about 50 feet from a near vertical slab of stone where the mountain started rising steeply upward.

Jiao suddenly stopped.

"I feel something Jack, but I'm not sure what," she said.

I started walking to the chicken house and tried raising some of the old, rusted pieces of tin.

"No, that's not it," she said, then turned around until she was staring at the slab of stone.

We walked over to the slab, and I picked up a fist-sized stone and started banging on the rock.

After a couple of minutes, we both heard the distinctive sound of metal being struck.

It only took a couple of more minutes before we figured out that part of the slab was actually steel and made to look like rock. I was finally able to find a small horizontal slit, just large enough to put my hand in, about three feet off the ground.

Inside was a lever, and when I pulled on it, the side of the slab opened up.

Before going inside, Jiao and I ran back to the SUV and grabbed everything we could and carried it to the opening into the mountain. It took a couple of trips, but soon we had everything.

I was worried about dogs being able to track our scent into the mountain, but didn't want to use pepper since that would be somewhat obvious if the dogs suddenly started sneezing and lost their scent. I didn't know quite what to do.

Jiao and I started into the side of the mountain, when I found a barrel filled with chicken feed.

"Rutledge, you are a genius," I said out loud, as I started laughing.

When Jiao asked what I was laughing about I explained.

"The chicken house is fake," I explained. "The only reason it is here is to provide a likely source for the hundreds of chickens still around."

I grabbed several handfuls of chicken feed, and went back outside where I started tossing the chicken feed on the ground.

Within a couple of minutes, hundreds of chickens were pecking at the ground, looking for the feed.

"Chickens are really nasty," I told Jiao. "The entire time they are feeding, they are also pooping, and the ammonia in the poop will ruin any dog's ability to track a scent as well. Plus the way the chickens are walking around, it will cover up any marks we might have made."

Jiao and I ran back inside and both brought out several handfuls of feed which we scattered around the ground.

Jiao and I figured out how to close the "door" in the side of the mountain, and were soon walking inside a very wide, but not very tall cave. It really was more of a tunnel than anything else. Luckily I had a flashlight with me.

About 50 feet inside the mountain, we came to the first of what would turn out to be four different steel doors.

Taped to the door was an envelope with my name on it.

I opened the envelope, and inside there was a letter from Rutledge.

Dear Jack,

I have been debating whether or not I should tell you about the real Fortress Appalachia, or not. As much as I wanted to, it is hard to break old habits. Even the old Army buddy who helped me build first the underground bunker, and a few years later this one, doesn't know what is inside.

Only a couple of years after this was built, he and most of his construction crew were killed in a plane crash, so nobody knows about this. The bunker under the cabin required so many people working, that a lot of people actually knew about it. Only a dozen people ever worked inside the mountain, and all but one was killed in that crash. It took years to complete, but the fewer people who knew about it, the better.

That one guy died in a car wreck a few years later, so I don't think anyone knows about this place.

Unlike the bunker, this place is powered by generators driven by water power, but with even more batteries since it is larger. The Geo-thermal system is actually inside the mountain, in some old caves. Since it is totally sealed off from the outside world, I don't think anyone can ever find it.

There is also a computer room with even more computers and monitors, so you can still have access to the outside world.

Since you are reading this, obviously you found some of the clues I left on the computer. I couldn't bring myself to tell you in person, but was hoping you would eventually figure out there was another, even more secure place in the valley.

Take care Jack. We only knew each other for a short while, but you really were like the son I always wished I had.

Teddy Rutledge.

I have to tell you that I had tears in my eyes reading the letter, and hearing Rutledge describe me as like a son to him.

Jiao just put her arms around me for a few minutes, but then I knew we had to move on. It probably wouldn't be too much longer until our "company" arrived, and I wanted to be ready when they got there.

Rutledge had left me a number of keys, and at least a half-dozen seemed to have no point, since I could never find a lock for them. But when I took the keys out of my pocket and started looking, I noticed a small number "1" scratched on one key.

When I tried it in the lock on the steel door, it opened.

After we opened the door, we carried all the food inside, then began looking around. I noticed a small switch above the door, and when I flipped it, lights came on inside the tunnel. The tunnel sloped slightly downhill, and we could see about a quarter mile into the distance. While there were lights every 50 feet or so, about a fourth of those lights were not working, so we could see some well-lit areas, and some that were very dark.

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