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Blaine Huberty

Part Time Soldiers In An Invisible Army

As head of Internal Security Bureau for Sector 7, the Colonel had a problem, and it was one his mind couldn’t believe he had in the first place.  The attack had been a complete surprise.  What enemy units hadn’t disappeared under thermonuclear fireballs or choking clouds of poison gas had been mercilessly crushed under the treads, boots and shells of the follow up ground forces, the survivors disarmed and marched into POW camps.  Their navy had been sunk at sea or at anchor, the few survivors chased into neutral ports where they sat impotent.  Their air forces had been likewise slaughtered - shot out of the sky, blown up on the ground or chased into refuge with other countries.  
    After the initial invasion, the Internal Security Bureau forces had swept through the conquered territory, taking into custody anyone the ISB thought would be a problem - members of the conquered land’s government, ex-members of the armed forces, religious leaders, and more.  The ISB had policed up battlefields and military armories, rounded up privately held firearms, and explosives from mining and quarry operations to head off possible sources of arms to a resistance group.  They’d installed filtering software on the vanquished land’s communications systems.  Every phone call, email and fax was monitored to ensure people could not communicate with co-conspirators outside the local area.  A series of travel permits and checkpoints had choked off free internal travel.  A network of collaborators and informers was started to keep the population from trusting each other for fear of being arrested by the ISB.  Ration stamps were issued to ensure no one could feed guerillas or fugitives like downed pilots or isolated army units.
    The idea was simple - any possible flames of resistance, without the ability to communicate with other fighters, gather arms, feed themselves, and travel would quickly be stomped out under the boot of the ISB, and the conqueror would then be free to export the ideas of the Party, and enrich themselves off the raw materials and work force of the vanquished.
    But it wasn’t working out that way at all.
    Not only was there a resistance movement, but it was widespread, sophisticated, and seemingly with an unending supply of arms, and an uncrackable method of encrypting their communications.  There had been few arrests, but none of those arrested had given any useful leads, despite the most skillful interrogations using drugs, trickery, and in some cases, brute force torture.
    It was the interrogation tapes recorded from a session with drugs that Colonel was watching now.  The suspect, an overweight man in his 40s was cuffed to the chair opposite the interrogator.  The man had been a science teacher, and never served in his country’s armed forces, had no martial training of any kind, yet had been caught emplacing incendiary devices of the same design and composition as devices used across the country.   
    The man’s proclamations of working alone were clearly false, as several buildings had gone up in flames even after his arrest a week earlier, with the cause determined to be the same devices he had been caught with.
    Over and over again, the interrogator asks who he is communicating with, who was giving him his orders.  The man dreamily responds with “No one. We’re a bunch of part time soldiers in an invisible army. No bases. No generals. No supply depots. Nothing for you to target. And we’re going to keep this up until you leave or we kill you all.”
    Then the man starts to shake and foam at the mouth.  The interrogator calls for a medical team, but it’s too late.  Their suspect is dead from an adverse reaction to the truth drugs.
    Enough.  The Colonel heads to the other room, where the bar and its selection of fine liquors sit.  The previous owner, a Senator in one of their state houses, had fine taste.  It’s just as the Colonel begins to pour from the decanter of whiskey that the bullet rips through the window and through his chest, killing him instantly.
    Chester Collins sees the ISB chief drop through the deer rifle’s scope before he stuffs the gun into the waterproof scabbard and takes off running through the woods as fast as he dares.  The ISB chief’s bodyguards are sure to come running, and he’s having too much fun picking off these pricks to get scooped up now.  He still has 3 boxes of shells left, and a whole lot of invaders and traitors to kill.   
    When the ISB goons had come looking for people’s guns after the attack, he’d hidden his dad’s deer rifle in a piece of plastic pipe and sunk it to the bottom of the septic tank.  They’d confiscated the four guns people knew about, but no one knew about this one.
    He’d stash the gun in a culvert a few miles from here, then make his way home via some back woods, avoiding the checkpoints.  He told his wife he was working late, but he’s careful not to use that excuse too often in case she tries to reach him at work or suspects he’s having an affair.  He doesn’t know if he can trust her, and has kept her in the dark about his late night hunting trips. He’d seen people get scooped up by ISB when they blabbed to friends, family or others about their resistance activities.  Collins thought sticking it to the Occupation warranted at least the same type of discretion one would have if they were having an affair, or growing pot in their backyard shed.
    At the same time the ISB’s main man in Sector 7 was getting some radical .308 caliber brain surgery, 15 year old Trang Mihn was finishing her work in her parent’s basement.  A selection of household chemicals and jury rigged labware took up most of the space on a big scarred workbench.  Her parents knew about the lab - she was president of the school’s Young Scientist’s Club after all, but they were completely in the dark about the lab’s more patriotic dual purpose. The high school honor student didn’t look like a guerilla fighter, but she was, and effective too.  She’d torched 20 enemy buildings and 50 vehicles, four this week alone.   
    She owed what she knew to her chemistry teacher, who had improvised, adapted and overcome numerous school district budget shortfalls to find a way to teach his students the joys of chemistry by making labware more suited to a meth lab and finding cheap, available household chemicals to use instead. And just imagine - the lesson on what chemicals she needed to mix for her sabotage mission had come as a safety lesson on dangerous chemical combinations!
    Across town, Owen Marion was doing some late night chemistry of his own.  He’d been a member of a living history town before the invasion, whose character showed visitors how black powder was made.  And now, in his basement, he was doing it again, with the Occupation Forces his intended audience.   
    This time, he was mixing the sulfur and potassium nitrate he’d bought from a garden supply store with the charcoal powder made from smashing briquettes in the historically authentic proportions, before putting the mixture in large glass jars for storage.  Tomorrow night, he’d take a few of his completed party favors to work with him at his janitor job to share with the Occupation Forces.  
    His party favors were based on an improvised hand grenade he’d seen talked about on a history program.  The grenade was a charge of military explosives packed into a small juice can which had been set inside a larger stew can containing metal fragments, usually nails or bits of barbed wire, and set off with a non-electric blasting cap that was initiated with a length of fuse cord the soldier lit prior to throwing. Marion's device was simpler, since it didn’t need a blasting cap to set off the black powder. Instead, he used a length of wire ripped from a dead toaster, powered by either a power source in his target’s area, or by common flashlight batteries.  
    His favorite technique was to put the device in the top drawer of his target’s desk, wired in such a way that when the target opened the drawer, the device exploded.  Other times, he’d place a large container of black powder in trunk of his target’s car, with a propane tank and wired off a tail light.
    His most successful attack had come when he’d wired a large device with the power cord that had powered the lamp in the foyer of the Party Youth Movement’s house, when he, his two bodyguards, and four collaborators, had come home from a celebration, only to catch several pounds of nails when a bodyguard turned on the light.  He hoped to outdo himself tomorrow when he’d drop off a few dozen devices in the offices of the Internal Security Bureau.
    Quentin Lawrence owned a gas station just off the freeway.  Before the war, he’d seen a lot of traffic every day, so much so that he’d employed 20 people.  Now, with the Occupation, and the rationing of gas, tires, oil and everything else to civilians, and the difficult to get travel papers, he’d seen his business slow to a trickle and he was now the only employee.  That gave him a lot of time to think of ways to screw with the Occupation’s stooges.  
    He liked reading spy thrillers, especially ones rooted in reality.  One year, his favorite author had put out a novel where the hero was attached to a Special Operations team and they went behind the lines to disrupt enemy communications and supply.  Among the pieces of equipment the team carried were Fire Cigarettes, a cigarette shaped explosive device designed to be stuffed into a fuel drum or gas tank, which would explode after an acid had eaten through a barrier and ignited the explosive/incendiary mixture.  He’d looked it up on the internet one night and found it was based on a real device.  
    He’d promptly forgotten about it until the idea came back to him while filling some collaborator’s gas tank.  After that, he’d worked on some secret research and development until he’d developed his own Fire Cigarette. He was fortunate to have one today when the car pulled up outside.  
    He’d learned of the ISB man's killing, and it had pulled all the stooges out of the woodwork.  In the limo outside he saw the District governor-general, the civilian administrator for Sector 7, as well as the head of the Sector 7 military forces, along with the turncoat mayor, plus a few aides and bodyguards.  
    One of the bodyguards was out of the car and looking at the gas pump like it was some piece of alien technology.  Well, Quentin thought, they hire them for their brawn, not their brains.
    “I got it,” Quentin yelled as he came outside.  Moving quickly, he moved to start refueling the car, and drop his little invention into the tank, making sure it avoided the anti-siphon baffles. As the tank filled, he tried to listen to the conversation the stooges inside were having.
    Basically it boiled down to disbelief that there could be a resistance movement without leaders, arms caches, communications with other cells and recruiting of partisans.
    Quentin smiled, as he crushed the upper part of the Fire Cigarette’s shell and slid it into the gas tank.  Inside the shell, a glass vial of sulfuric acid was now working its way through a rubber barrier to a reactive powder that would ignite when the acid reached it, causing the gas tank to explode.
    Chester figured less than half an hour would be all the time these pricks had left on earth, and if there was an afterlife, he doubted they would believe that there was a rebel army at work - an invisible army of individuals working towards a common goal, in secret and alone.

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Blaine Huberty is 28 and in the technical communications program at Metro State.  He also writes for The Metropolitan. When he's not writing, in class, or working, he can be found cooking, reading, or learning more about subjects that interest him.